Explanation Of English Project 2

My last post was my latest English project for my freshman English class at school.   The point was to take what I observed in my first project and find something to research in a academic paper for my second assignment.  We had to use at least two scholarly articles and anything else we wanted as long as there was a solid paper using his 1:2 rule.  That means he wants two lines of explanation for every line of cited information or quotes.  I don’t think i did very well on that part, I have a lot more scientific information than personal observation or analysis since I think most of the facts I have explain each other.  However, this teacher seemed to want this paper to be mainly observation with the research merely complementing the analysis and personal observations.  That is definitely not what I’m used to.  If I’m writing about myself, it will probably be a paper in the form of my memory in story form or a reflexive free thought paper.  I prefer to write papers on facts where researched facts support research.  I am not at all good at combining the two types.  I also didn’t choose a subculture I’m passionate about since I’m not very passionate about people outside my immediate circle.  It’s hard to combine the two types when I’m more interested in the facts than the people.  Okay, I’m rambling and I need to get to class so I will say adieu and talk to you soon.

Freshman English Project 2

Coffee on Campus: The Addiction of Students

Many years ago in Ethiopia a young goat-herder found his goats dancing at the end of the day.  He did some investigating and found an odd bush with red berries.  He tasted the berries and started dancing too.  He brought the berries to a nearby monastery and the old monk threw them in the fire to be rid of them.  The enticing smell brought the other monks who scrapped the beans out of the fire.  Eventually the beans were crushed and made into a drink.  According to legend, that is how coffee was discovered around 850 AD.  From Africa through Italy to the rest of Europe, the drink evolved into the daily necessity known in coffee shops and homes throughout the continent.  When the Americas were colonized, coffee came with and changed the South American markets for years.  Today coffee is sold and drunk throughout the world and is second only to oil in internationally traded items (Chou 1).  In the U.S. coffee is an integral part of life for most people.  There is no place that the need for coffee is more obvious than on a college campus.   The coffee shops on campus are almost always busy.  Someone is usually in line so a 5 hour shift goes quickly but workers often get frazzled trying to keep up with the demand.

The students themselves drink a lot of cups a day.  I have a friend who says she drinks two to three cups of coffee a day while cramming for tests.  We use the drink to keep us awake during long hours of studying or to stay awake in class the day after a late night study session.  Coffee shops on campus are often meeting places for study groups or individuals who need to study outside their room.  It is also common for coffee shops to be meeting places for students who just need a place to relax around their class schedules.  Students bring their homework or computers and sip a large cup of coffee as they work or relax by themselves or with friends.  I often see study groups meet at a coffee shop, get their drinks, and settle into a large table or go from the coffee house to the library nearby to study or work on their project.  All this coffee drinking leads me to ask one major question: is coffee good for us or is it like alcohol which tastes good, relaxes us, but speeds up the decay of our liver the more we drink?

I enjoy sitting near the coffee shop in our school cafeteria to do my homework between classes.  It is a constant source of white noise as the counter is always busy with people ordering drinks and the noise of drinks being made.  I rarely see the workers take a break since what little time they have between customers is usually spent refilling the containers of coffee, milk, flavorings, and sweeteners that are used throughout the day.  Although the shop is busy throughout the school day, it is busiest in the morning as students come to campus and need that extra boost of caffeine and other chemicals to get them through the morning classes.  The line gets so long at times that it is out the door, which is fifteen or more feet from the counter.  So many students and teachers line up for coffee that I often wonder if there is a physical reason people crave coffee or do we just love the taste and smell of the drink?

According to a study of college students at the University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Timisoara, Romania published in 2013, 58.34% of girls and 20% of boys have over three cups of coffee a week (Smaranda 2).  That means that a lot of the students at that college had a cup of coffee at least once a day for three of the five school days in a week.  That tells me that a lot of students on that campus drinks coffee regularly, not just during the weeks of finals.  Most of us drink more than one cup of coffee or caffeine in teas or sodas a day.  Add to that fact that most of us consider one cup to be whatever size the drink comes in and drinking three cups a week could equate to nine or more servings of coffee a week.  Most students use caffeine in coffee, tea, and sodas to stay awake or sharpen focus to improve learning.   According to the information on WEBMD, a medical website designed to answer medical questions people may not want to ask their doctor, caffeine is primarily used to “improve mental awareness” but is also used to help other pills act, help treat headaches, improve stamina in athletes, and help asthma sufferers breath better for up to four hours.  When put that way, caffeine sounds very beneficial to the health of students at college beyond the most common use keep students awake.

It is too bad that he more caffeine we consume, the more we notice symptoms annoying caused by withdrawal of caffeine when it starts to wears off.  At a certain time we suddenly feel like we lose all our energy.  Some people get headaches, anxiety, and nausea, depending on the amount of caffeine consumed (Chou 5).  What is it that affects us so much?  Caffeine is used in every organ and tissue in the body.  The liver breaks it down in two to twelve hours, usually closer to four to six hours, depending on a person’s metabolism (Chou 4).  When the caffeine is broken down, the focusing effect most of us need wears off, which often feels as if we are suddenly tired and unfocused compared to how we felt moments before.  Many of us then scramble for another dose of caffeine to stay alert.  The problem is that caffeine is a drug that the body builds a tolerance to.  As years pass people need more coffee in the day than they used to need.  Caffeine seems to compete with the chemical adenosine in our body to keep us awake and able to focus (Chou 4).  As caffeine and adenosine compete for our level of focus, our whole body can be affected by falling asleep in class or feeling sluggish when we do not want to.

Many college students start drinking coffee in the end of high school or beginning of college years.  Although most children in America start consuming caffeine much younger in sodas, energy drinks, and chocolate, it seems that coffee and black tea have the strongest concentration of caffeine.  All that caffeine can cause problems.  WEBMD goes on to say that caffeine can cause insomnia, irritability, nervousness, restlessness, and nausea. In another article I found reference to caffeinism, a disorder defined as “a state in which high doses of caffeine acutely manifest as frequent urination, jitteriness, lightheaded, irregular heartbeat and breathing, upset stomach, diarrhea, and heart burn”(Chou 7).  By the time college students get through college, they have not felt the unproven long term effects of coffee drinking such as a lowered risk of Parkinson’s Disease and other types of dementia as well as lowered risk of certain cancers and possible lowered risk of some heart problems (Chou 10).  Even small levels of caffeine can cause or heighten problems sleeping, stress, and anxiety or other nerve disorders.  A caffeine overdose can even kill people although the necessary amount of caffeine needed to kill a person is out of the realm of normal consumption at about 170 milligrams per kilogram of weight.  That translates into about seventy-five cups of coffee, one hundred twenty-five cups of tea, or two hundred cans of soda in a short time period (Chou 7).    Unfortunately that can be cumulative, so a person who regularly drinks a lot of caffeine a day may have heart problems if a huge dose is suddenly added.  Luckily, there is no way to suddenly overdose since the side effects increase in strength as the level of caffeine grows in the blood.  If a person can notice the side effects, such as vomiting, it is a good hint that their body does not want more caffeine.

The general assumption is that caffeine is the most active ingredient in coffee, although Tony Chou, M.D., a Medical Chief Resident of the University of California, San Francisco, claims that there are hundreds of chemicals identified in coffee (Chou 2).  Studies over the years have proven that ingredients other than caffeine in coffee may be harmful in the long term.  Although these studies are hard to reproduce, they indicate that there may be a relation between having more than six cups of coffee a daily on a regular basis and an increased risk of some types of cancer and heart problems.  These studies have proven that coffee is the possible problem, not caffeine since tea did not achieve the same effects in the study.  The studies that prove a possible relation between heavy coffee drinking and cancer or heart problems have been hard to reproduce since heavy coffee drinkers also tend to be smokers, to drink alcohol, and exhibit other lifestyle dangers that are hard to remove from a long term study done under ethical codes(Chou 10). 

With all of those possible risks, is it healthy for college students to drink the coffee that helps them stay awake longer?  Many graduates say they would never have gotten through college without the use of coffee.  I see coffee everywhere on campus as students carry it to class or grab their favorite drink on their way to their intended study nook.   While I may wonder at the safety of such a huge part of students’ lives, I will have to continue to wonder.  There is evidence that heavy coffee consumption may be hazardous to health in the long-term, but there is not yet any proof.  There are always more studies being done but it will be a long time until there is definite proof of a danger from coffee.  The current studies seem to prove that a daily consumption of two or three cups of coffee is safe.  The majority of students only drink that much regularly around finals time.  The trick is to remember that by “cup” I mean an eight or nine ounce cup, not a thirty-two ounce large size from the coffee shop.

Works Cited

Chou, Tony. “Wake up and smell the coffee: caffeine, coffee, and the medical consequences.” The Western Journal of Medicine Nov. 1992: 544+. Academic OneFile. Web. 9 Oct. 2013.

Smaranda, Laura Goţia; Rodica Goţia  Smaranda; and Camelia Gurban. “Nutrition, coffee, alcohol consumption in students’ life style” Palestrica of the Third Millennium Civilization & Sport.  Vol. 14 Issue 1, p7-11.  (2013) Acedemic Search Complete.  Web.  9 Oct 2013.

Shields, Deborah H.; Kattia M. Corrales; Elizabeth Metallinos-Katsaras. “Gourmet coffee beverage consumption among college women”.   Journal of the American Dietetic Association. Apr 2004, Vol. 104 Issue 4, p650-653. Web. 9 Oct 2013

“Caffeine” WEBMD, WEBMD LLC. n.d. Web. 15 Oct. 2013

Freshman English Project 1

This is my first project for English in college (as the title says).  The assignment was to observe, with field notes, a subculture on campus, interview a member of the subgroup, and integrate the field notes and interview in some way that created a complete view of that subgroup.  What the teacher didn’t say is that the next project, and possibly the two group projects after that one, will be based off of this project.  It will be interesting adjusting this to more projects since I chose a random group that has no actual link to me nor is it an interest of mine: workers at a coffee shop in a campus food court.  Oh well, it’s done now.  What do you think?

I am sitting in front of The Pulse shop in the Underground, a cafeteria in Wescoe Hall on the University of Kansas’s campus.  The room is slowly emptying of the students working and eating at the tables here, but it is still pretty packed.  The noise is low enough that people can talk, they do not have to shout over anyone, but it is definitely not quiet.  It is a little before three o’clock in the afternoon and I am waiting for Abbey to get off work.  She is a sophomore who is on the pre-nursing tract that works at The Pulse.  As I wait, I watch the counter of the coffee place.  It is time for the shifts to switch so there are a lot of people behind the counter.  A girl with a long blonde ponytail has replaced Abbey as cashier, there are two ladies in brown shirts (the rest are in green shirts), as well as an Asian girl and a guy behind the counter.  The girl with the blonde ponytail is wearing the uniform shirt, a green shirt with KUDining written on it, tucked into her jeans and a Pulse baseball hat which her ponytail is dangling out of.  Another person behind the counter wearing a green KUDining shirt is the Asian girl with a long black ponytail coming from her uniform hat and her shirt tucked into her jeans which is held on by a multicolored belt.  An Asian guy with no hair showing from his hat and his shirt tucked into dark jeans held on by a white belt is also behind the counter.  They are both working around the smoothie blenders in the middle of the back counter of the coffee shop, occasionally coming forward with finished smoothies.  Above their heads is the prominent logo of The Pulse: the words in huge circles as if they are vibrations pulsing outward.  One of the ladies in the brown KUDining shirt seems older than the other one.  The older one seems to be the shift leader of the off-going shift since she was working with Abbey while I sat with my smoothie.  She appears to be taking inventory, ducking into cupboards under the counter and checking the racks on the far left of the forward counter of straws, cup covers, and stirrers for what needs to be filled.  She crosses behind the cashier to open the refrigerator in the back right corner, revealing jugs of orange juice and milk, as the younger lady in the brown shirt makes hot drinks in front of the steam machine on the counter on the far left wall, under the orange frappe sign.  She has a tight brown bun poking out of her uniform cap and her brown shirt is tucked into light jeans.  The sound of steam often adds to the din of the room and her voice is barely discernible above the general noise in the room when she calls out orders, at least from this distance.  The other shift leader closes the door to the refrigerator, makes a note on the paper in her hand, her short brown ponytail swishing with every move of her head, and goes to check on the coffee pots in the center of the front counter.  She carefully tests each one to see the weight, than summons the Asian guy from the blender he was using behind her.  He finishes making the drink, saunters over to the far left to give it to a customer, and turns to find out what the off-going shift leader has to say. 

Glancing to my left at the sound of my name, I smile as I get out of my seat to welcome Abbey.  After the pleasantries of meeting are complete, we sit down and I start the interview.  “How long have you worked at the Pulse here in Wescoe Hall?” I ask.

“Since the beginning of last semester.”

Since it is the fall semester that would be starting the end of last January, right?  I should verify that, I think.  “Did you work through the summer, or no?”

“No, I went home for the summer.”

“Okay, did you apply specifically to this Pulse?” I ask, noticing that the older shift leader is leaving the work area pushing a small two-leveled black cart.  The Asian guy is picking up one of the coffee pots and walking the few steps behind the counter to a huge metal square-ish contraption.  He inserts the pot in one of the slots as Abbey answers.

“Actually I worked over there first,” Abby replies, pointing at the food area across the room from where we sit near the coffee shop. “Then I came over here, so, I mean, it’s all one.”

”Okay,” I reply, about to ask my question to clarify when she continues.

“I started as a cashier, I pretty much worked everywhere, like in the kitchen, cashier,..” she trails off as she thinks about all the positions available in the cafeteria area of the Underground.  Behind her the Asian guy is taking another pot from the front counter and putting it in the contraption on the back counter.

“Did you apply specifically to here or did you have to go online or…” I prompt.

“I just went into that office,” she replies, pointing down the hallway that has the restrooms and a number of other doors before leading to the classroom part of the building, “and got an application.”

“I’m rather curious how the application process works, if it’s all connected-” I start as the Asian guy watches the coffee pots.

“Like KUDining?” she interrupts, raising her voice slightly to speak over the sound of the blender as the Asian girl makes a smoothie.

“Yes,” I reply as the sound of the blender dies away.

“I think mostly you just go into, like, one place, like, if you want to go to the dorms you just go to the dorms.”  While she speaks, the smoothie is being poured from the blender jug to a medium sized cardboard vender’s cup and the Asian guy watches the coffee brewing.

“Okay.”  I reply as the Asian girl puts the blender jug in the sink behind the cashier.  “Why did you choose to work in the Underground instead of anywhere else on campus?” I ask watching out of the corner of my eye as the Asian girl walks from the sink near the back right corner to the drink pick up area in the front left corner of The Pulse work area.

“Both my brothers worked here and they graduated last year so they kinda got me the job,” she replies, ending in a chuckle.

“Nice,” I comment as she continues over my words.

“So that was the deciding factor, yeah.  They just kinda told me about it so I applied.”  As she talks I notice the Asian girl starting a new drink while another customer orders at the register.

 “Okay,” I reply, that question answered. Looking at the next question, I switch topics.  “Is this your first job or did you have something in high school?” I ask.  The cashier pulls a clear plastic cup out from under the counter and writes on it with a permanent marker.

“Oh no, I had, like, three jobs in high school.”

“How does working at the Underground compare to, and specifically the Pulse, compare to some of your other jobs?”  I ask that as the girl with the long blonde hair leaves the register, puts a squeeze of something from a bottle between the ice machine and the smoothie blenders in the cup, and walks the cup to the line of waiting cups by the hot drink area.

“Um, it’s a lot-I worked at a restaurant at home and it’s a lot busier, like coffee, because, I don’t know, people are always on the go.  So you have to make it fast, as opposed to a restaurant where everyone is sitting down and relaxing.  It’s just mostly the case.”  As she speaks the cashier returns to the register to take the next order and the shift leader with the short brown ponytail returns with her cart.  The top layer of the cart has a bag of powder, a package of napkins, a package of straws, and a shaker for what looks like a spice, maybe cinnamon.  The bottom layer has two jugs of orange juice and a few quarts of milk.

“I was sitting here for nearly an hour and a half and you guys had maybe five minutes that didn’t have someone ordering,” I comment as she nods at me in agreement and the shift leader starts putting her stock away.  The jugs go in the refrigerator.

“Yeah, it’s insane, yeah.”  The straw and napkin containers go behind their bins.

“It seems like everyone has their own place over there, like the coffee place, your place was the cashier, and there was also the smoothie area,” I say, motioning to the work area as the short haired shift leader puts the spice and powder in a cabinet under the counter.

“Yeah”

“Is that generally how it is on all the shifts or just with this leader?” I ask as the shift leader says something to the Asian girl before going to speak with the Asian guy while they both watch the coffee brew.

“Yeah, when it’s busy we just go with it. Like, we always have one person on cashier, and then two or one person on hot drinks, then smoothies.  Just like, sometimes there’s a floating person, but if smoothies get busy they help there.”  Right now the smoothies area is not busy so the Asian girl starts putting away the straws and napkins while the younger shift leader stays busy with the hot drinks, the cashier waits at the register while a customer debates what to order, and the Asian guy watches the coffee pots, nodding every once in a while to indicate he is listening to the tips the older shift leader is explaining to him.

“Is there a hierarchy of who, like how difficult the jobs are or is it just the decision of the shift leader?”

“Well, usually the hot drinks are harder to make than smoothies.  So people start out on smoothies.  So the newer people today are on smoothies, and then they just kinda work their way up.  Cashier is really anyone who has experience.”

I had noticed that the Asian guy they put on smoothies in the last half hour seemed less hurried than the other workers while the girl that was also on smoothies seemed to get a lot of instructions.  That seemed to mesh with the idea that they are both still learning the job.  Obviously the guy is just learning how to brew the coffee pots.  “Okay, is it hard to get into that groove of working together, not bumping into each other all the time?”

“Um, kind of, I mean I bumped into a lot of people today.”  She continues after an embarrassed chuckle: “um, I don’t know.  It’s kind of easier now, like, that I know-Like when I first started I didn’t know where to stand or whatever but now it’s easier.  It takes time,” she ends with another self-conscious chuckle.

“Yeah, I worked at Dairy Queen and we were always bumping into each other.”  At the counter the Asian girl starts on a double smoothie order for a couple of friends.  They talk to each other while texting on their cell phones.  The older shift leader is talking to the younger shift leader as the last of the current line of hot drinks is handed out.

“Yeah,” Abby agrees before continuing with a nod toward the Pulse counter, “that’s a small space to have so many people working in.”

“What do you think is probably the busiest time of the day?” I ask.

“I work the morning shift on Tuesday so that’s probably the busiest.  From, like, eight to eleven it gets really busy. And it’s always busy right after classes get out like at two and stuff.”

“So when all the people are just waking up?” I comment with a chuckle of my own as the older shift leader leaves the workspace with a quick wave to the workers as another line of customers walks up.

“Yeah the other day the line was all the way out the door and I was like, ‘Get me out of here,'” she ends with another chuckle.  “So, yeah.”

“Um,” I hesitate, glancing at my note cards for the next question as the girls behind the counter are kept busy by the drinks and the guy is still watching the coffee brew.  “Does everyone seem to get along or is it more of a keep-your-mouth-shut-and-get-the-job done workplace?”

“No, most people work well together,” she starts before I am done with my sentence, “I mean, compared to some other places that I’ve seen, like, the people that employ my friends.  You can really talk to anyone here, like my crew lead, she’s really awesome.  She’s, like, if we’re not busy we’ll just joke around.  So, it’s nice to have that relationship with your boss.”

“Sounds fun.  Do any of you hang outside of work or are there any get-to-know-each-other events or not really?”

“I don’t, I know people over on, like, the Underground side, and they do more.  Like, I used to hang out with them, but not as much anymore and I’m not working as much as I did last semester so it’s kinda hard to become close.”  As she speaks a girl with a drink half gone walks up to the pick-up area of the counter and tries to get the shift leader’s attention.

“Okay, and how long are shifts usually?” I ask as the shift leader hands out the drink she just finished.

“You chose your own schedule, so whenever you want to come in, like between classes, after classes.  This semester I’m working longer shifts and less days so I only work Monday through Wednesday, and I just had a five hour shift.  So, I mean, you kinda just make your own hours.  Management is pretty good at working with you.”  The shift leader tastes the customer’s drink, says something, and drops the half full cup down the trash receptacle behind the straw bin.

“Nice.  Okay, next question: how difficult is it to have a job, how much does it interfere with your schooling?” I ask as the shift leader gets to work on another drink, the unhappy customer still waiting.

“Um, more than I thought it would, but, like, I mean, it’s just really a time management thing.  You have to learn how to do that.  Last semester was my first time doing job and college and it was kind of hard to get used to, but now I think I got it down, except that I have harder classes this semester so that sucks.”

“Yeah, harder classes are a pain,” I comment as she chuckles.  “Would you say it’s hard to learn the drinks or drinks are -“

“They’re really pretty easy.  Plus for the smoothies we have cards that say how to make them, kind of cheat sheets.  Pretty much for all the drinks there are cards so they aren’t too hard.”

“Those come in handy,” I say with a chuckle as I remember how often I needed the cards at Dairy Queen to learn the Blizzards when I worked there.  The unhappy customer receives a full drink and walks off.

“I’m always looking at them,” Abby says with another chuckle.  By now the Asian guy is helping in the smoothie area but I can tell most of his attention is on the coffee brewing while the line of customers grows.

“Um, what’s a typical routine for work?  I noticed your shift leader refilled everything getting off shift.”

“Yeah, we have lists, opening lists the openers will go through and you’ll sign off your name for everything you do.  Then closing lists, we close at five or five-thirty so you have to start the closing list at like one-thirty to make sure everything gets done.”

“That’s always fun,” I comment sarcastically, remembering some late nights closing at Dairy Queen, where the official closing time was ten at night in the winter.

“Yeah,” she says with another chuckle.  “I always try to avoid that.  It’s not fun.”

“What do you like best about working at the Pulse now?” I ask, noting that we are almost through the questions I have.  The whirl of the blender over the ebb and flow of noise in the room indicates that the Asian girl is still working on smoothies but a glance confirms that the guy has gone back to watching the coffee.

“Probably just that it’s fast paced so it goes by a lot faster than whenever I was at the Underground, just standing around and, like, I don’t know.  There wasn’t a lot to do and then people, like, managers would yell at you, like, ‘you need to work’ and so I’d wipe the same counter again since there was nothing to do.  So, I don’t know, just staying busy.”

“Okay, makes sense.  What is probably the worst thing about working at the Pulse? Closing?”

“Um, yeah, closing is pretty annoying and they’re really bad here about communicating schedules so there’s always some miscommunications, like what I just experienced.  I don’t know, other than that it’s really not that bad.  They’re starting to crack down on dress code.  Like they just started making us have to wear hats and tuck in our shirts and things like that.”

“Yeah, I’ve noticed that stuff like that tends to come and go,” I say, thinking about my last job.  “They get tough for a month then ignore it for three months.”

“Yeah, even my brothers, they worked here for like three years and they said they’d never heard of management cracking down like this.  I don’t know what it is but…”

“Yeah, I’ve had that on a few jobs,” I say.  “What’s probably your favorite drink?”

“Um, for me personally, I like smoothies mostly.  Lately I’ve been getting the Strawberry Oasis and I add peanut butter in it.”

“Very nice!”

“I don’t know, I like coffee but I don’t know, I don’t like to buy it,” she says with a chuckle.

“It does add up,” I agree before going to the next question.  “What do you think is your favorite work experience, like your favorite-“

“Favorite shift?”

“Um okay, I was more thinking about your favorite one event or something that happened because you worked here.”  As she talks, the Asian girl delivers a drink, says something to the shift leader who is still working on hot drinks for the dwindling line, and leaves the work area to walk toward the food area behind me.

“I don’t know. I guess that last year I got to work with my brothers and I really liked that and, I’m trying to think of one event.  A lot of the days kinda blend together,” she says with a nervous chuckle.

“True, so there’s not really anything really amazing that has happened, just kind of come to work?”

“I wouldn’t really think anything monumental has happened on the job,” she replies as she searches her memories for anything that qualifies.  “I don’t know,” she says with another self-conscious chuckle.

“What about something really bad like a really bad spill or something, fire alarm or something.”

“Um, I’m trying to think.  I can’t think of anything.”

“Well, that’s probably good,” I comment as the Asian girl returns with a clear jug of ice.

“Yeah, I guess that is good. Yeah, most of my days have been pretty average.”

“Would you say there’s any lingo you guys have?” I ask as the Asian girl struggles to put the ice in a container under the counter that held the blenders.  There was a break in orders so the cashier helps her align the containers correctly.

“Um, mostly just coffee lingo. I mean you pick up on it pretty fast, like a breve is using half and half in a drink and there’s um, I think about cafe aulait is just coffee and steamed milk.  I don’t know, it’s just little things like that, it’s not like we’re speaking another language.”

“Yeah, well, I do have a question.  I call it the steamer-” motioning to the machine the girl in the brown shirt is still in front of.

“Yeah, steaming the milk, yeah.”

“It seems there’s a special technique with that, or not really?”

“Um, not really, there’s just like little rules you have to follow so you don’t, like, break it, not like ‘break it’ but so it stays running the way it does.  You have to always turn on the wand before you put it in the milk so, like, I don’t know.  You have to turn it on, then you can steam it. And then you steam it to the temperature, and then afterwards you have to turn it on and wipe it off so the milk doesn’t stay stuck on the wand.”

“I notice your shift leader just had the new guy rebrew the coffee in the front pots.  Does he have to stand there and watch them each brew?” I ask, noticing him taking one of the pots out of the contraption and putting it on the front counter.

“No, he’s new, but no, he doesn’t have to watch it.  We do have to rebrew the pots every two hours, or if the pot gets empty before the two hours.”

“Okay, I think that’s all my questions.  Thank you for your time,” I say, before standing up.  I notice the guy is putting another of the pots in the contraption, brewing the last two pots of the four up front.

The Pulse sounds like a pretty good place for a college kid to work, I think as I walk past the shop for the door outside.  Flexible hours, friendly coworkers, easy things to memorize with cards for the harder things, and fast paced so the hours don’t seem long.  I will definitely have to keep it in mind when looking for a job.

The Typhoon

I can see the waves coming in from the sea, foaming up to the sea wall.  They crash against the seawall, trying to spray the cars on the other side before the fierce wind whips them to the side.  The strength of the wind rattles the house, rattling the windows and doors that want to open but can’t.  My sister’s apartment has two rooms with glass sliding doors leading to a balcony.  They usually leak through the bottom where the slides are but this time she duck taped trash bags in the slides to prevent the rain from bubbling up.  So far the precaution seems to be working as water hasn’t started to puddle but we are still early in the storm.  It is morning here and the storm is supposed to continue until after sunset.  We’re both sitting in her living room typing on our computers.  She’s working on her grad school assignments while I work on my writing.  Her big black cat is laying in her favorite basket next to my sister while her smaller tabby cat is stretched out on top of their refrigerator in the room behind us.  They both had an active night chasing each other through the living room/kitchen area and reacting to the wind rattling windows and doors throughout the night.  The wind started before supper last night while scattered showers started later as the storm approached.  Inside it’s quiet, other than the sound of keyboards, the occasional movement of a cat, the doors trying to blow open, and the steady drip, drip, drip of the single hole they have into a ready pot.

 

I’m staying at my sister’s apartment in Okinawa this week and the storm decided to come while I was here.  It’s been a fun week other wise but today is definitely a stay-inside-and-stay-dry day, for us and the two cats.  Her husband was called away due to the storm so he’s not here with us.

Kella’s Decision

Kella closed the door to her bedroom and leaned back against it, her hand still on the door.  She stared at the molding trunk in her new room, not seeing it as her mind whirled.  She had seen him today.  He had been across the ballroom all night, he had also asked her to dance.  Thankfully her card had already been full.  She hadn’t been forced to dance with him, forced to smile when she wanted to hurt him, to proclaim to the world what he had done.  She had been told that he was called Baron Ardal the sixth son of Laird Eoin.  Son of a Laird?  No, she remembered him being Brogan, the son of a man with too grand a name for the poor nobility he was.  The others may not see the distorted face of a man about to connive his way to what he wanted, but she did.  His amulet didn’t work on her and she would never forget his face. 

   She thought back on the night and the look in his eyes as he asked for a dance “in respect to her dear father”.  He didn’t know she was there.  The fact appeared in her mind from some unknown place but it stuck.  Brogan didn’t know that she had seen him that night, didn’t know she had heard his plan.  Brogan didn’t know she knew who and what he was and he wanted to court her.  He may merely be planning to play with her as a reminder of her father but it didn’t matter.  She finally stepped away from the door and headed for her vanity.  The smile on her face as she sidestepped the trunk someone had magically made invisible decades ago and forgotten was nearly chilling.  By the end of this season, Laird Eoin would know that his true son had died years ago and the death of Lady Kella’s father would be avenged.  Baron Ardal was no more but Kella only had a few months to make Brogan the Fifth’s life his own living hell.  Time was precious and she had work to do before the maid got done with her aunt.  So much planning to do and preparations to make.  Brogan had to pay.  Brogan would pay.

 

 

 

This is the scene right before my first post on an upcoming series in a fictional world I am creating on my other blog.  I plan to start the series in the beginning of December but I’m creating the story, plot, and world now.  It’s an interesting process and I wish I had no other projects so I could devote more time to this project.  However, I do have other projects so I’ve set the start date for this series in December instead of September.  I can’t wait  and I’ll add a few more scenes from the story here as I write them.

Time To Say Goodbye-Fiction

I was putting on my makeup when the text came.  It would be a special night for us.  Marcus and I had been waiting for the premier of this movie for months and then he was going to come over for the night.  My roommate was visiting her mom for the weekend in the next town over so we’d have the apartment all to ourselves.  It was the first time we’d do this and I was rather nervous but Marcus was being really supportive so far.  It was going to be an awesome night.  Glancing at the dress I planned to put on after the movie, I smiled as I picked up my I-phone.  Marcus was bowling with his friends and we’d been texting about tonight on and off all day.

The text wasn’t from Marcus but from Sally, my roommate.  Clicking to open the text titled “Sorry”, I gasped.  There was Marcus and the girl he called his cousin.  She was behind the counter at a jewelry store with a sign for a today only sale, the date on the sign and that wasn’t how I say goodnight to my cousin.

Shock quickly turned to anger and I flipped through my texts to the image Marcus had sent me earlier in the afternoon.  I sent the picture of his bowling buddies posing with him to my computer and pulled it up.  There was Steve, Ryan, Ray, Leonard, and Marcus while Al would have been holding the phone.  Wait, Ryan?  I had seen Jen earlier in the morning, right before lunch in fact, at the deli not far from here.  She had been picking up lunch for her boyfriend Ryan since he had to work all day at the hospital.  So why was Ryan in a picture supposedly taken this afternoon?  As I thought back over the last week I remembered Tuesday.  I had been really nervous about the audition I had the next day and had called Marcus to calm my nerves.  He had been outside when he finally answered and basically hung up on me.  I thought nothing of it since he said that he was on his way to dinner with his easier overwrought mother.  I had called Jen instead and she could talk because Ryan was bowling with his friends.  It was a simple comment I had ignored at the time but it made sense now.  If Marcus had been planning to spend the day Saturday without me, visiting another girl he obviously liked or pretended to love, he had set up the bowling date with his friends ahead of time.  He wasn’t even willing to pause his game to talk to me when I was freaking out but he expected a special night tonight?  Um, yeah, no.

Glancing at the photo from Sally one more time, I shut it and dialed Chris.  “Hey, Chris-girl, how are you?” I asked when she answered.  “Wonderful,” I replied to her question.  “Hey, I know this is last minute, but do you have plans for tonight?”  I wasn’t surprised when she said not really.  She was obviously perplexed since we hadn’t exactly talked since she sent me that image of Marcus with his arm around his “cousin” in a club last month.  He’d talked his way out of it and I had been annoyed at her for trying to break us up.  Now I wished I’d listened to her better.  “I was wondering if you wanted to do a girl’s night out tonight.”

“I’d love to, Suz, but why?  It’s Saturday night and I thought you had big plans with Marcus tonight.”

“I did but you know that picture you sent me last month?  Sally sent me another one today and that generally isn’t how I prefer to say goodbye to my cousin.”

“Right, a girl’s night out sounds like just the thing for tonight.”

I’d been looking at the dress hanging on my closet door and decided to go all out.  “I think I’ll wear my red dress.”

“Oh, the one you bought last year but have yet to wear out?”

“Yep, the one that Marcus has been asking me to wear out.”

“Mind if I  wear my black one?”

“The one that is skin-tight and hides only the important things?  Sounds perfect.”

“Oh goody, I know the perfect place.  It’s just around the corner from me and has a bartender you will adore.”

“One you’ve got dibs on?”

“Nah, I get the busboy.”

“That sounds perfect.  When can you be ready?”

“Come on over whenever you’re ready and we can pregame or head out.”

“Excellent, and,Chris, thanks.”

“Don’t worry, we’ll have fun.  Girl’s night out will be better than the romantic movie and popcorn I had planned for tonight.”

After finishing the plans, we hung up and I stared at my phone.  It was nice that she understood and was still there for me after I’d basically ignored her for the past month.  Marcus had seemed like the perfect guy.  He was willing to go slow and wait for me to be ready, despite his jokes and flirting.  He could be so sweet most of the time.  Now I realized he was willing to wait since he was getting satisfied somewhere else and that our relationship was probably carefully planned by him, possibly planned in advance to keep at least two girls from getting suspicious.  I shook off my thoughts before they went too deep and pulled up a text to him.  “Night’s off, I’ll call you later.”  Putting it down with a snap, I hurried over to my dress.  I’d barely started taking my top off before I heard the text come in.  I ignored it and turned up my radio.  I slipped into the tight dress, hooked on my matching strappy stilettos, and walked back to my mirror to redo my hair.  Five texts from him and one from Sally.  Clicking on the one from Sally, I wasn’t surprised to find she was worried about me.  She knew I had plans tonight, but I texted her to thank her and tell her my change of plans.  I’d be fine and move on.  Another text came from Marcus as I sent mine off to Sally but I ignored it.  A quick adjustment to my makeup had me ready to party instead of going to a movie.

I grabbed my purse, put my phone on vibrate so I wouldn’t hear his texts, and shoved the phone in my sequined red purse.  One final look in the mirror showed a confident lady ready to paint the town red.  I turned off my lights and radio before closing the door to my room.  I leaned my head on the door for a second but hurried away before the tears came.  I’d call my soon-to-be-ex-boyfriend before going into the bar, I might even call while Chris was getting ready.  She could take a while but I didn’t want this particular call to take too long.  I’d made up my mind and it was time to say goodbye.  He’d just have to deal with the disappointment of me not in his life.  Yeah, keep that up, girl, I thought as I left the apartment. He’ll be the one heartbroken, not me.  Yeah, that’s right.

 

 

 

Today starts my (hopefully) weekly scene to help me get back into the mindset for writing fiction.  I had thought this would be a flash fiction (written in a half hour) or a postcard story (written in under 250 words) but it took an hour to write and is about a thousand words long.  However, I like the scene and thought I’d keep it as it is.  What do you think?  (Honesty please, I’m trying to improve.)

Restart

It’s been an epic fail getting my major certification done for my job.  As soon as I finished that test I lost all motivation to study for the next round of oral tests so I still haven’t finished that certification.  However, I have huge hopes for being done by the middle of August, or at least done with the parts I can control (the last huge test is scheduled by who’s in line and it’s usually a long line).

The good news is that I’ve gotten sick of not writing fiction so I have decided to slowly get back into the mindset of a fiction writer and I will do so right here, on this blog.  Every weekend, starting next weekend, I am going to post another scene here that I have created to keep my mind fresh for fiction writing when I get my certification done.  Don’t expect a lot for now.  I’m thinking the scene could be anything from a scene I sit down and write in a half hour (one of a few types of stories called “flash fiction”), a description of a place I’ve been to work on my descriptive writing, or anything else that catches my eye as far as furthering my craft of writing fiction.  When I’m done with my certification I plan to work my way through a “MBA in creative writing” book I picked up.  It claims that the book will teach me all I would learn at an MBA course minus the moody teachers and lengthy writing assignments graded by subjective authors.  Basically it should teach me techniques I can use.  I will then take those techniques and write a scene focused on individual techniques and post most of those scenes here.  Don’t expect a story out of these scenes any time soon.  I doubt that these scenes will resemble a story although I may use the same characters in differing scenes that may or may not eventually get revised to write a short story or a single scene may be used to spark a whole novel.  I don’t know yet what I’ll do with these scenes but I do know that I need to seriously work on my fiction skills if I ever hope to get a book published.

That’s all for today, I’ve got a lot of work to do on various projects (not fiction related) and a lot of studying for my certification to do before next weekend.

Nearly Finished!

I passed my test yesterday.  That means I’m halfway through my major certification for my job.  I hope to be done with it by the middle of June so I can get back to my fiction writing.  I have a number of plans of things to do with my writing, such as finishing my blog story about Star Chaser, writing my way through a few books on writing, redoing another blog I have into a fiction fantasy kingdom, and possibly writing a series of short stories set on or near a space station.  I’m also planning to turn some of my blog posts into an e-book that I want to publish by the end of the summer.  I can’t wait to finish this certification so I can get back to my fiction writing, which I have missed.  Check back soon to see what project I start first.

Well, ‘night for now

I’m done for the night.  I uploaded the new Flexibility3 theme here tonight and I think I can stop playing with the blog for tonight.  I have the background color good, I just need to decide if I want to change the post color from light blue to something else.  What do you think?  I write science fiction so I’m trying to stay with a “space-like” color scheme.  I agree that my main site, which has a light tan “post color” may be too much of a contrast and am looking for a better color idea without losing the dark blue and black.  I’ll need to experiment some more but this is all for tonight.  I have a few more business things to do before bed and I need to be up on time tomorrow.  ‘Night y’all.  I’ll probably work on this more tomorrow.

Hi Again

Hello again.  I’m sorry I’ve been away so long but I’m more available now.  I don’t plan to do much with this site for a while (although I do hope to change the horrible link text color and will put in analytic script soon).  I’m sorry but my fiction has fallen by the wayside while I work on other projects and some certifications for work.  I just wanted to tell you that I haven’t forgotten this site or thus watching it.  I do have a few story ideas I’m fleshing out as I go about my other projects and I’ll be sure to let you know when my other projects start up online.  Until next time: have a lovely day and may God bless you.

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