Thursday, January 08, 2009

coffee shop conversation

Some days my mind wanders so.

It goes here and there. It takes me so many places.

I sit down at the writing board and just type. At times, I have misjudged my course of inspiration and nothing results. But if I’m lucky, the keyboard serves as only a very tiny barrier between what is in my mind and what results on screen. Words, thoughts, emotions, dialogue, characters, and a whole other life jumps into action. It all pours out of me like it was just dying to escape. The oddest part is, I have no idea where these thoughts comes from. I don't spend hours of research or days of pondering over what I write in my stories. It just unfolds before my eyes, leaving even me surprised.

The most exciting part of the process, to me, is that I meet new characters. I discover new places, experience foreign situations, and take the emotional journey in any number of ways.

My desire has always been to experience life at its fullest, and for me that means diving into the deep sea of the unknown. Who will I run into today? What can come from this? How can I design that to affect others? What am I communicating?

Often, who I want to be and what I want to experience is so inhibited by myself.

Today I was inside of a coffee shop, and there were 2 people in line in front of me. One was a man, a very animated storyteller with bright eyes and big hand gestures and he was shooting out opinions about politics. The other was a lady, seated on a stool, glamorously dressed and although she hadn’t said much, I could tell she was full of life by her vivacious laughter.

The lady behind the counter was diligently making coffee drinks of choice, tuned into the conversation but working. The man was suddenly talking about how he and his 3 brothers worked at a jail. Up until this point I wasn’t hugely interested but that sparked my attention.

When my attention is sparked by people, I often start to analyze why I am interested and how I want to make an impact or why they have affected me. What question do I have, or do I even want to get involved?

Often, I don’t participate. And sadly, regretfully so. Yet my mind is so quick to formulate why I shouldn’t speak up because of all the worst case scenarios and awkward moments that may result, that by the time I muster up the wits and verbal eloquence to offer myself, the situation has terminated or I am left cowering in the corner.

Other times, it comes down to one thing that I hate to admit: I don't care enough. Sparking a conversation or joining one, especially in line at a coffee shop, requires effort and social rules and why establish all of this when we will be on our way in 3 minutes or less, and I must fight for a way to wrap it all up with a pretty little bow on top?

During the times that I do exercise my naturally extroverted nature with no inhibitions in the way, I am almost always glad that I did, even when it doesn't go as anticipated. All in all, I am genuinely interested in people and if I had my choice, I would meet a new person every day, because every person is interesting. Today happened to be such a case, and I eventually interjected my main question, which was, what does he do at the jail? He told me, he works as a prison guard.

This fascinated me for some reason. This man was highly sarcastic on several occasions and made jokes about his occupation and those he came in contact with, but before I had time to get anymore of a gist, he had to leave and it was time for me to put in my order.

The lady on the stool continued to chat with the worker and cackled loudly every so often. She was the type that would say something and then laugh very loud for an extended period of time. People with such external joy entertain me so. I asked her how business was going; she runs a small shop attached to the coffee store that sells classy & creative gifts and furniture.

I retrieved my coffee (which wasn’t a coffee, but a green tea freeze) that wasn’t even for me, and left.

My coffee shop experience paired with my urge to go exploring in some of my old writing documents today reminded me of one thing: my mysterious passion for certain things.

I used to write all of the time. Stories about all sorts of topics under the sun… topics that to this day, I am not even sure why I did because I have no experience with them. To me, in order to experience something in life that I maybe never will, I write about it.

One of my older short stories was entitled “Jackson Brown” and was about an elderly lady who revisits a memory of her role as a grade school recess aide earlier in her life when she reads an article one morning in the newspaper about a man who went to jail for robbery, and she realizes it was a child who she had tried to connect with as an aide.

Why did I write about that? ...a criminal going to jail? There is actually a notable inspiration source where this story is concerned but for the most part, my writings spur up from anywhere and everywhere, and any topic that seems fascinating at the moment is game. The story wraps up with a nice emotional sentiment illustrating the importance of human connection, touching peoples’ lives, and the impact we have on one another for years to come.

Every so often, our elder or one of our ministers at church will talk about the prison ministries and how people go every Sunday morning for services. Every time, I get this tug on my heart. Is it possible to have a heart for a group of people when you have had no direct experience with any of them?

Anyway, all of these thoughts and happenings today somehow created this post that, hopefully, is some sort of cohesive whole by the time it is finished.

In order to further randomize, let me tack on a piece that I found while document browsing today.

I took a creative writing course at ISU and loved it. It really stretched me creatively and forced me to break some of the rules that I had been abiding by to construct even stronger, more powerful work.

One of the pieces I came across was titled as a hybrid piece, and I just vaguely remember writing it. It was unfinished, and I did not end up using it for the assignment at hand (rather, I used a “stream of consciousness” piece). So I polished it off today and will share it now.

Here it is:

A green Volkswagen Beetle, working a full-time creative job, and loving life as a single, twenty-something female.


A four-year university, designing posters and editing videos, and hanging out with friends every chance I get.


To a giant school of many lost teenagers every day for class, returning home just in time to catch a few rays or watch a favorite TV show, and chatting online for hours until my eyes are so tired that I turn out the light.


Barefoot through the rocky alley on warm summer nights, spinning around in my backyard until I collapse onto the grass in dizzy laughter, and dancing in front of the red sunset to catch thousands of tiny lightning bugs.


Down flights of carpeted stairs on my padded behind, gripping a leaky plastic cup of juice while eating pretzels and marshmallows, and learning the many firsts of crawling, walking, and talking.


Psalm 139:14
I will praise thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Marvelous are thy works, and that my soul knoweth right well.


It sure compartmentalizes and simplifies life. In so many ways, it’s such a predictable path. And in every way, it is definitely a blessed one. I can’t help but think of the less fortunate who have experienced more turmoil in their first “rewind” than I have in my entire life time.

May we continue to reach out to people every day and show them Jesus!

Love you all!


p.s. To anyone who took the personality test from my last post and commented, I replied to you personally at the very end. Thanks for your participation!

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