Measured Quaff: Ten for the other day


So it may seem that I drink a lot since I write in bars, but I actually don’t. I drink A beer and order some food, all nicely paced with my productivity. For instance, tonight, after writing copy for the male stripper websites, I wrote a little more for pay–my wellness gig–while I enjoyed the first few sips of my local Seal Beach Citrus IPA. As the glass’s golden elixir diminished, I moved on to other less demanding writing, like fixing up a few blog posts or articles I’m in mid-write. And when the glass reached below half full, about twenty minutes into my stay, I ordered food, and scanned my usual news outlets to look for digestible “news” bites.

Today, at half glass, I switched to the Chronicle of Higher Education and read a lively response to what should be taught in English composition courses and why. It was a rebuttal to some cynical writer’s estimation of college students’ abilities to write a correct sentence let alone a cogent argument. I didn’t read the article to which the writer responds, but I’ve read enough of them to know in my nearly two decades of teaching comp what that might have been. The comments here are among the very few places that I actually read and learn something–good comments.

At one third left, I ordered braised Brussels sprouts with red pepper and read Flipboard’s writer’s section. I perused some headlines but found nothing to land on. Trying to stay absorbed in my screen, an intrusion entered too close to my bar stool. I’ve seen him here before. He’s a regular. But so am I, I guess. I just don’t think of myself as one.

This guy always feels like he’s looking for a conversation. He ordered the meatball special. He scrawled on his phone plenty, but when he picked up his phone and made a call, he was out of my sphere of interest–even for compassion/boredom chat. He knows the young bartender well. The bartender doesn’t know my name or my beer preference, so I think I’m safe to say I’m not a regular. Whew.

At 1/8th of the glass, I started writing this ten minute write. And now, my attention span is thinning, so I figure I can hammer words on a screen rather than focus on content of someone else’s polished work or try and polish one of my own.

As the buzzer sounds, ten minutes are up, I swig the last of the glass, fork the last of the greasy, dripping sprouts and call out to the young man sporting an indecisive beard, “Check, please!”

Coffee College: Ten for Yesterday

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?

Crowded in Bars


Sit in a crowded bar.

Hear the roar of intelligible volume.

Music bass beats disrupting cardiac rhyme.

Shouts, whispers and laugher, all a boom.

Fist bumps and swaying good cheer.

Love and loneliness conflate, swill in beer glass

Bottoms, oh where can I feel this good again?

And why the price to pay bankrupts me.

Write in a thumping pub.

Stool side bar lined drinkers and snackers,

I buzz along the page, noting the din, 

An elf pit padding by, no a child.

A child? 

Bar strip invisible barriers to the dining room,

No walls, balloons, kids and family, clinking wine

Glasses and frosted mugs, steins, clicks, smiles, shouts

Above the music, lyrics swallowed in the mêlée of 

Motion and shoveled appetizers and gin, hospitality

And bused trays of bitten bits, refuse, waste, prolifligate

Posterity to posh sea and salt surroundings, spirits and

Song and gathering grand mirrored cheer, happiness

In a thin stemmed crystal–and you, out there somewhere

Celebrating your birth, the wonder of survival,

without me, alone with all of your friends

And family, a beer or so inside your belly, thinking of us,

Being with them, and both alone in our own movies.
————————————————–

Food’s here–finally.
 
And so it is, writing in a bar.
Biting at words.
 
Buzzed.
Sculpin IPA on tap.
 
Broke.
Payday a week away.
 
Fed.
Summer squash in fall, I had to.
 
And
No more, no reason.
 
Ready to say,
Write:
 
“I’ve been out this Friday night.”
 
Every day’s sameness.
 
Writing at my desk,
The confines of my chested blues.
 
Like a cliché gone staler.
Need.to.Reinvent.
 
But after just one. More.
 

Pub: pixabay