Autumn

All seasons have their own unique appeal and their own exclusive perks. My favorite season used to be winter…. until I learned how to drive. After several horrifying and near life-ending experiences navigating snowstorms in my old Subaru and my current Nissan, I no longer hold such favorable opinions of winter. Winter is also mega-depressing, especially in January and February. Spring should begin immediately after New Years, if you ask me… but anyway…

Now, in my adult years, my favorite season is autumn – a sentiment shared by many. This is not because I like pumpkin spice lattes, though. I actually detest all pumpkin-flavored treats, so you won’t find me clambering to get to Starbucks before a massive line forms, or bringing pumpkin cookies into work to share with coworkers. I love when the weather starts to cool, from abysmal heat and soup-like humidity to sweater weather. Nothing beats a nice, cozy sweater – except maybe a nice, cozy flannel. I like (a select few) horror movies. I love curling up on the couch with a good book as an autumn rain taps on the windowpane. I just feel happier when the leaves are changing, the skies are gray, and I can wear long-sleeves and boots and warm, fuzzy socks, and sip a salted caramel mocha.

The first “official” day of autumn was this past Saturday. Usually, the weather does not adhere to these markers and remains sticky and gross for a few more weeks, but in this instance, it actually listened – at least for now. I was at a family/friend gathering, and the weather was fairly autumnal – the air was crisp and cool, the skies were gray, and folks weren’t afraid to go and stand outside and chat and enjoy the outdoors. Beforehand, I got to browse a bit at Barnes & Noble and take advantage of their limited-time 20% off member discount. As far as first days of autumn go, it was pretty darn great.

And today (as I’m writing this it’s Sunday) the weather is much the same, though it’s also rainy. I’m going to an early-afternoon movie soon, I’ve already indulged in two cups of coffee with Cinnabon creamer, and I might even get to wear a sweater! And, later, I’m going to spin out some writing and be productive! This never happens so early in the season! It’s autumnal bliss, I tell you!

The major thing keeping me from looking into relocating into a state further south is the possibility of losing discernible seasons. I can’t lose autumn – I love it far too much.

So, I wonder  – what is your favorite season, and why is it so?

~~~~~

If you’re in need of a new read, check out my YA novel, I’m With You! The ebook is only $1.99 or (£1.55) and paperback is $9.99 (£7.99) on Amazon Amazon UK. Nook book is also $1.99 and paperback is $9.99 on BN.com.

 

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Worth 1000 Words #8: Coffee

A cup of coffee can either save or ruin an entire day. I guess that also applies to tea or other similar beverages, but I dislike most tea that is not of the iced variety, so this post will strictly deal with coffee.

IMG_20170515_145133_308For several folks all over the world, coffee is what sets the morning in motion. Or it provides a much-needed stimulant in the afternoon. Or it can be the fuel to a productive evening if you don’t have to wake up early the following day. Basically, coffee is a versatile tool that can be utilized whenever someone needs a caffeine-based boost. On many dreary days, it is only the tantalizing scent of coffee that is capable of dragging me out of bed in the morning, and during certain evenings, I look forward to indulging in a cup of “night coffee” as I settle in for an editing session or to read a few chapters of a book.

My personal relationship with coffee has not always been a healthy one; back in my late high-school / early college years, I was averaging about five to seven cups a day. Not good, and quite detrimental to my general state of being. My sleep schedule was terrible, my diet was awful, the caffeine headaches were brutal, I developed the appearance of a zombie raccoon, and I was basically using coffee as a crutch to hobble through each day and night. After receiving doctor’s orders to decrease my caffeine intake, I have managed to scale it back to two or three cups, depending on my work load or the kind of day I’m having, and on (very) rare occasions I even settle for one. I still resemble a zombie raccoon on most days, but I’m starting to think that’s just my natural appearance.

But I am also one of those folks who is not satisfied with just any kind of coffee. No, no… I am a snob. I’m definitely not as bad as some, so I guess you could say I’m a low-tier snob, but over the years, my tastes have evolved so that I can only tolerate certain strains of coffee, with dark roast being the most prominent. I am partial to French roast (the Starbucks kind is probably the best I’ve had, but Victor Allen’s is decent, and so is the Newman’s Own) but I will accept Sumatra, Italian, or any other kind of dark roast. I used to be able to drink any kind of coffee, but now, all variants of light roast taste like a single coffee bean floating in water to me – I call it devil’s swill. I honestly can’t fathom how people even drink light roast; I can tolerate medium roast if there are no other options, but really, the bolder the better.

However, despite my love of all things dark roast, I do have a fondness for sugary, frilly coffee drinks; frapuccinos, machiattos, lattes, blended drinks, etc. Sure, they’re often overpriced and provide about three days’ worth of sugar in a single sip, but they taste delicious! And sometimes, a frou-frou basic-white-girl whipped-cream-topped sweet treat is just what is required to propel someone through a rough patch. I’m off chocolate for the year (which has been a struggle, let me tell you), but if I weren’t, I’d be indulging in a S’mores Frappuccino right about now. Not that it will redeem me any, but I am STRONGLY anti-Pumpkin spiced anything and cannot stand the taste of gingerbread, so in the fall/winter, I am somewhat less of a basic bitch. I also haven’t tried the new Unicorn thing, but I suspect there isn’t any actual coffee in it, so I think I’ll avoid that sugar rush.

I prefer not to take coffee black; I’m not even sure how people do it. If I’m fixing myself a cup at home, I use a splash of creamer – basic vanilla or something simple. Right now, I’m using one called “sweet cream,” but it’s not overly-sweet. Y’all can get out of here with your hazelnut, though, or any of those fancy-pants flavors. If I’m out at a restaurant or something, I go for standard cream and sugar. Not too much; just enough to stave off bitterness.

I also have a mug preference, if I’m at home and am free to select whichever vessel I desire for my caffeinated beverages. My cupboard includes two Star Wars mugs (one is BB8, the other is Rogue One based) an Avengers mug, two Batman mugs, a mug with the logo of my alma mater on it, a Game of Thrones stein (House Baratheon… purchased before season 5 episode 9), and a bunch of plain white mugs for plain days. Sometimes, all it takes is a cup of java in a BB8 mug to lift my mood. Why would I use a plain old mug when I can drink out of a mug with superheroes on it?

Now, coffee is a simple thing, I know; probably not something I should spend 1000 words droning on about. But simple pleasures have power. Besides, you can tell a lot about someone from the way they take their coffee. I like to think I’m as bold as French roast (I’m not) with just a splash of sweetness (I’m not that, either), but a coffee preference can be an integral part of a person’s psyche; something that someone else can identify with. I even try really hard not to judge people who drink light roast, though it’s a daily struggle. Seriously, how does anyone consume that… that… devil’s swill?!?

My coffee order has evolved over the years, and I have changed with it – maybe someday, I’ll be taking my coffee black to match my bright sunshine-y disposition! For now, however, I’ll happily stick to my French roast… I actually just ordered a pack of 200 Victor Allen’s K-cups and I’m curious to see how long it will take me to plow through it.

So, the question is… how do you take your coffee?

An Elusive Balance

This morning, I awoke on the floor of my bedroom.

‘This morning’ is technically correct, though I should mention it was actually 3:20 AM.

Though not necessarily a common occurrence for me, I do occasionally wake up in this fashion – with the lights still on, an unfinished cup of coffee on the nightstand, my back in knots, and iTunes still playing The Lord of the Rings Complete Recording on my laptop. And it usually happens after I try to stay up late writing. Emphasis on the try.

And my first thought is almost always ‘Not again.’

I go through periods in my life where I think I have it all together – the stars align, my routines even themselves out, I remember everything on my to-do list, and I don’t wake up on my floor in the wee hours of the morning. And then, inevitably, there are also periods in my life where I fall into that horrible place between ‘having it all together’ and ‘a complete, total trainwreck.’ These days are usually categorized by piles of unfolded laundry littered around my room and days where I rely solely on English muffins and ramen noddles for sustenance.

I mean, I’m in my early twenties. I think I’m allowed to be a trainwreck sometimes. But it’s not productive, and, in the end, usually makes me feel like a useless slug until I can pick myself back up again and try and get back on track.

I suppose I am searching for something that has eluded me for what feels like forever – that balance, between the extremes. The train that chugs along toward a visible destination, instead of being completely stopped at a station, or blown off the tracks and broken into millions of indiscernible parts. The place in between feeling totally and utterly stuck and feeling like everything is moving far too quickly. The right pace to get to where I want to be in life.

I find myself, some days, coming home from a long day at work, and instead of working on a manuscript, like I promised myself I would, I sit down on my bed and end up taking a three hour nap, and then can’t fall asleep at a decent hour at night when I need to wake up the next morning at 5AM. Then when I wake up from the nap, I feel so bad about myself that when I attempt to salvage writing time out of it, I’m too irritated to make words.

Other days, I get to bed at a proper time, feel energized at work, come home, and pump out 5,000 words in a word document all in one sitting, and don’t end up hating it all when I reread it the next day.

I guess it’s all part of life, trying to find that balance. The periods of sluggishness and feeling dispirited grow shorter, and the periods of productivity and an increased sense of accomplishment grow longer. I’m still looking for my balance – so I don’t wake up on the floor of my room with my foot tangled in my comforter and Enya resonating from my laptop speakers. It would probably help if I stop drinking four cups of coffee a day, but that’s a whole separate issue…

Currently, My train is chugging along. I have a novel that is in the process of being edited/published, though I still don’t even believe it’s happening. This is something I have worked very hard for, and I am hoping that it will provide me with some more momentum.

There are still days when I sit in front of my screen and stare at the blinking cursor, and can’t think of anything to type, so I give up and browse the internet for cat pictures and fainting goat videos for hours. But the days (with the exception of last night, apparently) where I can sit and churn out thoughts and ideas without feeling like it all belongs in a compost heap are growing more frequent.

The balance is getting closer, every day. My train has finally left the station, and I will keep it on track, so that someday it might reach the destination I dream of, even though it might take occasional pit stops here and there.

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