Adjoa on a Monday.

Ever since my early twenties, coffee shops have been my true love. Many a coffee shop had me inside of it; ordering a cup, listening to the beans whir in the grinder; hearing the quiet hum of conversation as patrons did everything from chat with each other to type away at their laptops for whatever projects they were working on. (I almost always think the laptop-bearers are burgeoning novelists.) When I worked at my dearly departed Borders Books (see memories here and here), one of the areas I was assigned to, other than at the register or the info desk or shelving books, was the cafe. There, I learned to make a variety of espresso-based drinks, recipes that I still remember all these years later. It was, in a way, my first foray in working in a coffee shop. And I loved it something awful.

Naturally, I’ve always wanted my own shop. So in my mind, my shop would be called Adjoa on a Monday. Adjoa is my Ghanaian day name for ladies born on a Monday. The decor would unsurprisingly be rustic-y with a French touch; the French part is me, as you know, but I’ve also grown to love the rustic idea for a while now. Funny, huh? This Square Peg, who favored not-busy, not-busy, super modern spaces now longing for burnished wood finishes and Mason jar centerpieces? Girl, people be changing…

*All images derived from my boo Pinterest.

Anyway, further details about AOAM:

  • Free WiFi. I love the idea of people inhabiting that space and working on whatever their working on.
  • Open mic nights. At Borders, I freely took advantage of sharing my poetry with audiences. That college student had plenty of spurned-love poems to share, thank you very much.
  • Themed evenings every now and again. Paris jazz spot Tuesday. Speakeasy Fridays. Etc.
  • An assortment of staffers of different ages and backgrounds. This one is important to me. When I worked at Borders, a true pleasure was working with everyone from fellow college kids to part-time History professors and everyone in between. It was amazing.
  • A mini-bookshelf/donate-a-book area. Because you know books have to be involved.

More ideas abound. Will it happen one day? Will I venture out and start my own business and finally see this coffee shop of mine with my own two eyes? *Kanye shrug* I’ve never been ashamed or shy to dream out loud. Perhaps that’s the first step?

What thing/idea/venture/adventure have you nursed for ages? I’d love to peek…share it in the comments below.

And now…

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Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. 

I’ll begin by reminding you, my dear reader, that I stopped drinking coffee in 2008. (See the story about the drums here.) This doesn’t mean that I don’t long for it like I long for the key to our villa. In fact, I miss that warmth and aroma like crazy. I’ve been guilty of sitting next to someone sipping coffee and entertaining images of taking it from them. Without asking. Anyway. Despite all of that, I’m still slightly frightened of that drumming. And don’t say just drink decaf. We won’t remain friends.

Enter Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. Have you seen this online series from Jerry Seinfeld? The premise is everything the title suggests: Seinfeld picks up a comedian in a snazzy classic car, takes them to a coffee shop, and engages in the most intriguing (and often hilarious; they are comedians, after all) conversations with them. It’s wonderful. My sissy turned me on to the show when it came out, and don’t tell her this (the statistics of the older sister being right about everything need to remain undisturbed) but she nailed it. It was right up my alley. Comedians, cars, coffee, conversation. Cawesome. (New word.) What gets me, though, what infinitely thrills me about the show, are the scenes in the coffee shops. Not of the celebrities, but of the coffee. The images of that smooth liquid descending from the machines, of the coffee beans bursting in their bags, of that everlasting steam rising from the mugs. Add to all of those sweet images a whimsical, often jazzy soundtrack, and I’m on coffee cloud 9.

Ever since my stint at this lovely place, coffee shops have been the center of my world. (The books and coffee combination made it extra heavenly.) The café in this place embodied the café in every place: whispered conversations, folks tapping away at unfinished novels on their keyboards, the soft whir of espresso machines. It’s the dreamworld of creatives, people watchers, quiet types, anyone, really. The show makes me want to return to those days when I frequented them regularly. And this is my intention. At least one Saturday afternoon ensconced in a cozy nook at a local coffee shop is doable, no? And so it shall be.

So: watch CICGC, grab a cup, and forgive me in advance for watching you sip. 

Are you a coffee and coffee shop lover? Tell me all about it.

Throwback Tea-sday.

Look, a cup of tea fixes everything. It’s a scientific fact. (It’s not, but let’s just agree, shall we?) The best part of my day at the OK Corral is getting up from my desk and grabbing a cup of tea at the cafe we have here in the building. Sipping that warm, vanilla-tinged liquid (I prefer chai) does absolute wonders for me (including softening the perpetual frown I seem to wear when I’m in the building.) When a friend recently posted 15 surprising facts about tea, as shown here, I was reminded of just how much of a tea lover I am.

Formerly a coffee disciple since the age of 12, fond of lapping up the leftover bits of coffee my parents would slyly leave me in their cups, I officially switched to tea in 2008. That was the year I realized that the loud drumming I assumed was coming from my co-worker’s desk radio was actually my heartbeat, in reaction to the coffee I was drinking. Needless to say, that was the moment we said our goodbyes. (I still love the scent of coffee, though. Do I ever.) For me, tea is like coffee’s milder, gentler cousin. The dependable Darcy to that wild Wickham. (If you know me by now, you’re not surprised by this effort to use an Austen/Pride and Prejudice analogy.) Anyhow, and more importantly, despite the caffeine in tea, it’s not as intense and I can enjoy it without wondering if I will soon need a defibrillator.

Below are some photos of the afternoon tea (and scones) I enjoyed at Harrods department store during my trip to London in October. After a particularly tourist-y day, it was nice to simply sit and drink and sigh and chew and people-watch.

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So, so tired.
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But we’re at Harrods, so…

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…all better now.

Now that we’ve sauntered down memory lane with our cups of tea in hand, tell me in the comments if you prefer tea and/or coffee. Or wine, if you’re about that life.

About a Boy.

As I stood in line at the café at work and watched one of the employees step over to the espresso machine to whip up a latte for a customer, I thought of him. It was such an interesting time in my life, really, all of it, and he was, by far, the most significant part.

I was 19 years old when I met him. He and I started at Borders Books (I still miss it, sniff, sniff) on the same day, in the same orientation group. I noticed him immediately. Having long been a lover of cute faces, the combination of said cute face, those blue eyes, and that brownish-blonde hair got the heart racing. But, believe it or not, I told my prone-to-endless crushes heart to stop itself. I was tired of silly crushes. I was journeying into adulthood, wasn’t I? So I valiantly ignored R., not even allowing myself to swoon at his Texas drawl and those eyes.

Didn’t work, though.

When we began our first task of shelving books, he called my name. Ever hear your name being uttered by a boy you’re trying to ignore because you understand the inevitability of your soon-to-be deep feelings for him? Yeah, it was like that. I nearly collapsed, threw up, and smiled all at the same time. I heard you’re a writer, he said. I said yes. I write poetry, he then said. Maybe we can talk about books sometime.

A poet? A poet? I knew, then, that I was toast.

We discussed a little about writing, my then in-progress major in English at my college, his former college in Texas. It was a nice conversation. Soon, we were directed from the books to training on the cash register, where we stood next to each other, our shoulders slightly touching. I knew it then. I was in like.

For a year and a half, I went through the usual infatuation journey with R. I alternated between wanting to gaze at him 24 hours a day and wanting to push him down a flight of stairs for one silly reason or another. One distinct memory: as he tied my apron for me in the café, where we were frequently assigned together (which is why I thought of him yesterday), he asked me to be his creative inspiration. Dizzy from our proximity, I merely smiled and went into the back of the café, where I stuck my head into into the freezer.

Eventually, the crush dissipated and we became good friends. We shared poetry and book recommendations, laughed, talked, joked. When he decided to leave Borders and go back to Texas and back to college, I was sad, but not heartbroken. Before leaving, he gave me a sweet letter about enjoying our friendship and the “inspiration” I provided, although I think he was just happy to be around someone who loved writing as much as he did.

I last heard from him in 2000. He sent me a letter and a bunch of his poems to review, for which I never received a reply. I was angry about that.

A few years ago, while perusing the Internet and suddenly wondering what became of him, I googled him. That’s when I learned that he died in May 2002.

The death was unexplained. I merely saw his obituary, and cried, and reached out to the university he went back to, in order to learn something about the situation. Of course, the cause of his abrupt death was his family’s to own and to know, but the shock of it all–the untimely death of this young man that I once knew and treasured…it was unbearable. I was able to communicate my condolences to his family through the university contact that I found. (A memorial scholarship/award, for poetry, was established in his name.)

The triggers can be anything–coffee shops, bookstores, someone bearing his resemblance–and I am instantly transported to that time in my life, when a wide-eyed nerdy girl swooned over and ultimately found friendship with a sweet poet from the South. What a time it was.