{November 6, 2013}   Literary License

As a writer, it is a common practice to take literary license.  You tell a story, add some details that may or may not have happened and then you slap a witty title on it.  Publishers bid for your work.  They throw tons of dollars toward marketing.  You get multiple starred reviews and end up on the Best Seller list.

Every writing workshop or conference that I have been to tells writers to live in the worlds they create.  Think like your character, act like your character, feel like your character.  Not only have I embraced that piece of advice, but I have also started using what I like to call “Literary License of the Mouth.”

My husband calls it lying.  Really, I’m just trying to beef-up the interesting-factor of everyday life.  For example: To protect the innocent (that being me), on planes I invent crazy stories about myself when I am forced to talk to strangers.  One time, while sitting next to a lady and her seat-kicking two year old, I told her that I was only 6 days free from a mental hospital.  I said, “For safety reasons, they did not allow the patients to have pens” while clicking my pen in my hand. – Literary License of the Mouth

Or, there was the time when I sat next to this college student and his girlfriend.  I told him “I work at Macys where it is my job to turn off the escalators at regular intervals.  This is done in effort to be compliant with the state’s health initiatives.  People always assume that the escalators are broken, but think about it.  You think that one of the biggest department stores in the world can’t afford maintenance people to ensure that people can get to and buy their products quickly?  They are actually doing it on purpose.  They even conducted a study that found out that when people exercise before trying on clothes, they feel like they look better and will spend more money.  The study was published jointly by Fitness Trends and the American Association of Finance Journal. – Literary License of the Mouth

I even play this game with my husband sometimes.  He’ll call home from work and ask what I am up to.  I’ll say, “Hi honey.  I just washed, folded and put away 4 loads of laundry.  I was just about to start the vacuum when you called.  Thank goodness, I hadn’t or I might not have heard the phone ring.  How is your day going?” – Literary License of the Mouth

I consider these exercises character sketches or verbal world-building, if you will.  I know that I have the gift of justification.  I have been told that on many occasions.  Regardless, I also know that not everyone appreciates that gift.  But, before you judge me from your self-righteous computer chair, ask yourself, “is it true or did I just take Literary License?”


{February 1, 2012}   My coffee journey and Starbucks.

Being a coffee-drinker and being from Seattle, is a little bit of a curse.  On the one hand, I love great coffee; the stronger the better.  On the other hand, I am a bit of a coffee snob!  This is a problem because I currently live in the Midwest.  We are not afforded such luxuries as coffee-snobbery.  I have legitimate good friends who still believe that it is okay to brew coffee from pre-ground beans that come in a can.  I must say that not ALL Midwesterners think that is okay to do.  I do have some friends that understand things such as dark roast, bold flavor and how humidity can affect the taste of the brew.

I guess I should start from the beginning of my coffee journey.  I was first introduced to the smell of coffee as a young child.  In fact I can’t ever remember not knowing about coffee.  You see, my parents were connoisseurs of the drink.  Although then, they too drank the drink made from a can.  Coffee was a reason that people got together.  Many times my parents would “have people over for coffee.”  It took me a while to learn that they were actually coming over for a visit and being served coffee.  I thought that my parents just made amazing coffee.

When I got to college (in the Midwest) and started having to stay up late nights studying, I decided that I better learn to drink coffee, because that seemed to work for other people.  I had tasted my parent’s cups before and thought that it was disgusting, so this was going to be a serious endeavor.  My first legitimate cup…  I made a mug of Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate, drank a quarter of it and filled the rest of the cup up with coffee.  I could handle that.  The next cup had half hot chocolate and half coffee.  Little by little, I used less and less hot chocolate and more and more coffee.

My dad always drank his coffee black.  He never put anything in it.  He always scoffed at the idea.  “No, no.  I will not adulterate this drink.”  My mother, on the other hand used cream and sugar in her cup.  At the time I decided to learn to like coffee, I was in that ‘my mother is a moron’ stage of life that every girl goes through.  I was my own woman (at 18) and was going to make my own decisions.  My dad’s cup seemed like the better of the two to emulate.  So not only did I have to learn to like coffee, but I had to learn to like it black, unadulterated!  Had I made this decision in grade school, I would probably drink coffee with cream and sugar in it.

After my first year of college, I moved back to the Pacific Northwest and landed in Seattle.  I soon realized that if I was going to be anyone, I was going to be doing a lot of coffee drinking.  I also learned that there was a war going on in the city that every citizen was a part of.  The central question in the war was, “which company makes the best cup of coffee.”  It was serious!  In my family alone, there were four different arguments.  “Starbucks is the best.”  “No, Seattle’s Best is clearly the best.”  “Don’t be an idiot!  Everyone knows that Diva’s has the best coffee.”  “Are you serious?  Do I need to brew you a cup of Tully’s?”  These are conversations that never seem to have happened in the homes of my Midwestern friends.  When I try to explain, I am met with a blank stare.

I decided that I needed to answer that question, but in order to do so I was going to need to be on the inside.  I was going to find out what happens behind the brew at Starbucks.  That and I needed a job to buy my college books.  So I took a job at the Starbucks in the food court by the Space Needle at Seattle Center.  I soon realized that coffee is very involved.  There were actual recipes for the drinks and things like water temperature of filtered water, roast time of the beans, sit time of the brewed coffee, the number of times you tap the metal doohickey for espresso drinks all mattered.  In fact it all mattered so much that you had to go to “coffee school” at headquarters.  There were manuals, and tests, videos and pop quizzes, I felt like it was another college class.  My barista days only lasted about 6 months.  I could not afford to park my car while I worked for the amount of money that I was making, but this did not end my affair with Starbucks.

In Seattle, a person is only 2 degrees of separation away from someone who has ever worked at Starbucks.  Our paths would cross again.  After college, I started working for a video production company.  We did commercials and training videos for other companies.  Low and behold, Starbucks hired us to update their training videos.  I was then working with the owner, Howard Schultz (the Steve Jobs of Seattle), on video shoots.  I was helping to make the very same videos that I hated watching.

Did life with Starbucks end, when I found a new job?  No.  You see, I was dating a University of Washington football player.  He was starting to become kind of a big deal in Seattle.  Apparently he caught the attention of Howard Schultz who approached him and asked him to speak at his son’s school.

I decided that there was no getting around Starbucks.  I was just going to have to roll with it.  I picked up a copy of Howard Schultz’s One Cup at a Time and decided to further inform myself about the company (this was not required reading during coffee school).  I learned that there was a lot that I actually liked about the company.  I really enjoyed reading the book.  It was not, although, enough to get me to like Starbucks over Seattle’s Best Coffee.  That is until Starbucks bought out Seattle’s Best Coffee.

So here I am in the Midwest.  Starbucks begrudgingly destined to be my coffee of choice.  It has been a long journey, but I am an aficionada.  I even pay for my drink with the Starbucks App on my iPhone.

{November 20, 2011}   From Madden to Super Mario Bros.

When I met my husband, he spent many hours addicted to playing video games. His drug of choice? Madden, an NFL game. In fact, we met in a college class. A class that he was three weeks late in attending. His excuse was that the new Madden game had come out and he could not make it to class, because he needed to play the game.

As the years progressed, I think that I must have gotten used to him playing. He would sit on the floor with the controller in his hands while I curled up on the couch reading a book. It was a peaceful arrangement that was only occasionally disrupted by my then-boyfriend yelling at the TV because a player on his team had dropped a pass. I got used to reading about social injustice or Jewish concentrations camps while listening to John Madden’s “brilliant” obvious game commentary. Without even watching the game, I learned that “if you throw the ball to the other team, that’s an interception.” Or, “They’re gonna have to put some points on the board if they want to win the game.”

Shortly after our first wedding anniversary, I gave birth to our oldest daughter. It was not long after, that I was finally able to convince my husband to put down the sticks and pick up a bottle. A new baby meant more responsibilities and less time to play. We were official grown ups and needed to act the part. Thankfully, he was also growing tired of Madden.

I lived in this “only occasional video game playing utopia” for about seven and a half years. It was wonderful. My husband and I talked, we cooked together we even went to bed at the same time. We still had video game consoles (just in case), but he rarely played them.

We now have three small children. Our oldest is seven, we have a five year old son and a two year old daughter. When the Wii came out, we purchased one for the kids to play. It was great fun to watch them play the Michael Jackson Dance game, or to see them compete in the bowling game, but they could take it or leave it. The Wii was only for occasional fun. A rainy day activity, if you will.

A few weeks ago, my husband downloaded Super Mario Bros. (1,2 and 3) on to the Wii. He had a great time reminiscing about his childhood while he played the game. Soon the kids were interested and constantly wanted to play. They would ask if “daddy could play” with them.

Our time together has dwindled. I have come to the conclusion that it has been a conspiracy from the day our oldest child was born. He must have said to himself that he would give up Madden for a time, but when the kids were old enough, he was going to get me back. This he has done with a vengeance.

Our daughter does not want to do her homework because she wants to play Super Mario Bros. Our son is too busy to take his bath because he has to save the princess. So after I am “mean mommy” and get everyone to bed, I go downstairs only to find my husband playing the game. He smirks at me while Mario catches a feather so he can fly above the evil ghosts who are trying to take away one of his lives. Meanwhile, I am in the kitchen cooking alone. I wonder what book would pair well with the Mario Bros. theme song playing in the background?

et cetera