The Second Cup


Coffee drinkers everywhere know that first cup of coffee clears away the cobwebs. As the slogan says, it’s the best part of waking up. The merits of fair trade and pervasiveness of trendy branding notwithstanding, this common beverage crosses boundaries, both physical and categorical, helping us make connections wherever we go, no matter where we come from. Sipped in solitude or shared in a crowded cafe, people all over the world know the importance of the coffee break; even those who don’t drink coffee.

Mornings when my motivation is considerably lacking, which are more frequent than I care to admit, it’s that second cup that brings my thinking into focus. Halfway through, synapses begin to fire. Not rapidly but in a sort of rhythm, creating sequences of words that work their way into my writing in the form of a poem, a chapter, or sometimes nothing more than a blog post title. It would be nice to experience a surge of inspiration that I could build a TED talk around, but that isn’t likely. Instead there is slow and steady progress toward completing what I happen to be working on at the moment. In this particular moment, that’s a second book, class assignments, and blog posts.

Writing, for me, has been transformative. What began as therapy is now something more. I’m uncertain how exactly to articulate what that something is. Sharing my point of view isn’t particularly new, and yet, there is a newness in my writing, or at least in the way I see myself through writing. It has helped me develop different types of expression. It may seem as though I’ve been trying to perfect the rant, but it has been Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneer challenge to make every word count that has helped me the most. Comments from each of you have also been a tremendous encouragement.

I’ve been around the block both personally and professionally and for the past five years I have been privileged to volunteer with some of the best not-for-profit organizations around, choosing at the end of last year to go back to school to prepare for what’s next. I haven’t decided what’s next, but for the first time in my life I am executing a plan that doesn’t make me dread mornings. A plan that I believe is going to be good to the last drop.

33 thoughts on “The Second Cup

  1. I am very, very much *not* a coffee drinker. (Mostly because I abhor the taste. Then, when I do like the taste, I don’t enjoy the way my heart tries to explode right out of my chest). Caffeine and I, man, we ain’t buds. As I say to pretty much everyone who asks how I manage in the mornings: “I stay awake on sheer will power, and half the time that doesn’t work.”

    True story.

    However, I can’t say I don’t have a certain love for coffee culture. I have a particular fondness for its scent, and for the countless different forms it takes. I like how it is an integral part of my mom’s routine, and how it will always remind me of her for as long as I live. It’s such a multi-faceted beverage, and I often wish I was able to open my door and welcome it and all its little intricacies into my life. Too bad my taste buds and nerves won’t have any of it! So I’ll just be content in my role as the admiring observer.

    1. See, its universal appeal crosses all kinds of boundaries. My loyal follower is not a coffee drinker either, but even he knows the benefits of not disrupting my time honored addiction. HA! The aroma has always been pleasurable to me. I cleaned the percolator at my grandmother’s house many times, but didn’t start drinking coffee until I joined the Air Force. It was a must on the graveyard shift. It became part of my day and has been ever since. I tried to ditch the habit a few times over the years, but it never lasted.

  2. I only drink one coffee a day, but love to do my writing at cafes. I wrote 7 chapters of my book at a neighbourhood cafe and I write most of my blog posts at Starbucks.

      1. Oh yes, quite often. People watching is one of my favourite things to do. I am always imagining what they are thinking and what their lives are like. I like to think I’m curious, rather than nosy 🙂

            1. It’s one of my favorite things to do, Fransi. I often find myself (completely by accident of course) overhearing other people’s conversations, occasionally inserting myself into them. My loyal follower monitors my expression when we are out in public and often asks, “What did you hear?” He can see it on my face. Stories, yes! People watching, for someone like me who has super sensing ability, is a fount of good material.

              1. The very same thing happens to me :). You’re lucky. My ex loyal follower used to get P. O’d when I’d do it. He was an attention hog, which is one reason he’s an ex 🙂

    1. quiet contemplation and a good cup of coffee. that’s how I like to ease into a day. I like to watch the transformation as the sky slips from under the covers, but I must admit, my preference is watch it through an open window from the comfort of my own covers.

  3. I have a love affair going with my Nespresso machine. I even designed my new kitchen to give it a place of honor. Yes, I’m an addict. But it’s a vice I can live with – and one that helps others live with me!

    1. Espresso wasn’t something I’d ever tried until last year when we went to Italy. OH!! Yeah, I can see how a person would develop a habit. Upon return I ordered six cans of illy espresso beans and used them for my morning ritual until they ran out. Had to stop that.

  4. I don’t drink coffee but can confirm that it is the second dose of caffeine that gives me the ability to communicate. I wish I were a morning person, my planning really starts to take shape at midday. I do some of my best thinking at midnight – caffeine free 🙂

    1. Morning people, especially the chatty – or whistlers, my dad is a morning whistler, oh how I want them to keep it to themselves at least until I’ve had a cuppa (or two).

        1. Not sure I will ever be a morning person. Don’t get me wrong, there is something exciting about being outside in the dawns early light, watching the subtle transition from darkness, but as a general rule I’m not very engaging first thing in the morning. Who knows, maybe I’ll be a chipper old lady, singing We Will, We Will Rock You as I paint my eyebrows on with crimson lipstick. 🙂

          1. See here’s the thing. I despise mornings – I go to bed not tired enough and wake up exhausted. As an absolute rule I’m grumpy in the morning and don’t ever expect to sing anything. So not dreading mornings – amazing coup. All that stuff about dawn’s early light – no idea what you’re talking about. But the painted eyebrows is probably liberating in its own way.

  5. I know what you mean. I can’t even begin my work day until I’m halfway through that second cup. Add a third and I’m really, really productive. Or really, really jittery…

  6. Coffee. Yes, check. But you have food- pretty food! And slow sipping? Unfair. Gives hope life will someday be less frantic (down dog, ochie) (cat, you’ve been fed…multiple times)(Wait laundry, this sock dropped) (Rolling tumbling dog hair)
    Go back to school – and find a corner to savor that coffee and the ideas! YEA Honie! (And we’ve had 30 seconds of rain…you’re hogging it? giggles…It was a dark and stormy story opening….)

  7. Sounds like your coffee is made with magic beans( grin)
    I agree…there is nothing quite like that quiet morning slow sipping coffee and the brain churning.

    1. Yes, magic beans that grew right outside my bedroom window into a beautiful stalk that I climbed once and was welcomed into an enchanted cafe where espresso flowed from fountains and there was a never ending supply of scones. But then, some evil, giant baristas got wind of my private coffee fountain and chopped down the stalk in the middle of the night.

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