If we were having coffee

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If We Were Having Coffee…

23 Dec , 2017  

Or tea, or #covfefe, I would put on a fresh pot instead of drinking this lukewarm swill from seven o’clock this morning.

I’d Wish You All the Good Things

If we were having coffee, I would wish you a merry Christmas, whether you celebrate it or not. I’d also wish you a happy whatever-you-choose-to-celebrate, all year long. I have no war with any holiday, nor with anyone who wishes me well in any form or any language.

To the plot bunnies, ninjas, pirates, and Pastafarians: I hope that you see His Noodly Goodness in the form of sparkling tinsel and copious amounts of delicious pasta. Ramen.

If you’re celebrating Festivus, check out @RandPaul’sย  posts. If you don’t know what Festivus is…brush up on it here.

I’d Make a Confession

If we were having coffee, I might confess to you that my own blog gives me performance anxiety. I don’t believe in writer’s block; I won’t use that excuse. But I can’t write great litrahchure and hold back the silliness and still have fun. Let’s just lay these cards on the table right now: this blog’s not getting nominated for a Pulitzer. I’m okay with that if you are.

I promised I’d finish this, and I will.

I’d Give You All the Goodies

If we were having coffee, I’d offer you a cookie to go with it. No, I’d offer you two. I oopsed and bought new jeans. I tried them on. They seemed snug. I thought I was simply enduring the consequences of overindulgence in Magic Bars, Bourbon Balls, and homemade shortbread cookies. To my slight relief, I realize now that the old ones were “relaxed fit.” The new ones aren’t. Never mind that I’ve also regained about thirteen pounds. These things couldn’t be any tighter if I’d painted them on. That I can wriggle into them and still squat is a #FestivusMiracle. I’m not wearing anything else till my weight’s back down below what I re-gained; let these jeans serve to bolster my resolve. It’s impossible to snack and breathe at the same time in these things, but the look I got from my husband just now makes it worth the trade off.

At least we can still have coffee.

I’d Share My Resolve with You

If we were having coffee, I’d invite you to walk with me. Here.

Kickerillo-Mischer Nature Preserve

Walking Tall in the Park

We had a fitness center at work, so I dropped my pricey gym membership. Then Hurricane Harvey stormed through Houston, drowning my office, the fitness center, my favorite park and walking trail, and much of my determination to get fit and stay fit. A sort of malaise set in as thirteen stealthy pounds crept back to hug my hips, unnoticed.ย  I love working from home, but I have a tendency to start right after rolling out of bed, sometimes (unwisely) before coffee. Colleagues in India have learned to ask if I have at least half a cup of caffeine in me before asking technologically challenging questions. I’ve had coffee with some of you, online, at seven o’clock in the morning. You know. I can keep on working until bedtime, with breaks for bathroom, lunch, and dinner. It’s amazing to be able to focus, uninterrupted, for so long, but maybe it’s not entirely healthy.

So, I bought a new pair of athletic shoes – I literally wore out the insides and insole supports of the old pair, but the outsides held up beautifully. I bought a $15 set of resistance cables – #RESIST, eh? – so I have no excuse not to do strength training anywhere. The whole set fits into my backpack.

Resolution #1: Get over the idea that I need access to fancy gym machines to get fit and develop strength.
Resolution #1a (related, sort of): Get over the notion that fresh ideas need fresh notebooks. Stop ripping pages out or shoving them under the bed. (That’s what loose-leaf is for.)

I’d Tell You That I’m Grateful

If we were having coffee, I’d look over the rim of the mug and think (loudly) how glad I was that we were having coffee together. For all the times I haven’t said it, or the times you haven’t heard it, I’m sorry.

I’d Ask You What’s on Your Mind

And hope, while we’re having coffee, that you’ll tell me, in the comments below.

Holly Jahangiri

Holly Jahangiri is the author of Trockle; A Puppy, Not a Guppy; and A New Leaf for Lyle. She draws inspiration from her family, from her own childhood adventures (some of which only happened in her overactive imagination), and from readers both young and young at heart. She lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband, J.J., whose love and encouragement make writing books twice the fun.

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21 Responses

  1. Anklebuster says:

    Holly,

    You are a riot. Happy Festivus to you, too!
    You never have to compromise your blog. That’s an oxymoron. You are a writer, you write. Not every post has to be Opus No. 9. Besides, if you kow-tow to the millions of opinions who never see your blog, the 16 of us who do will miss out on ditties like:
    To the plot bunnies, ninjas, pirates, and Pastafarians: I hope that you see His Noodly Goodness in the form of sparkling tinsel and copious amounts of delicious pasta. Ramen.

    On the idea of fresh notebooks, I gently disagree. Take Evernote. I started out by having a bunch of notebooks, got tired of the chaos and crunched all my notes into three generic notebooks and was happy for years. Until one day, I wasn’t.

    I realized that I was forcing clips, notes and ideas into boxes that didn’t necessarily match the content. (Technically speaking, I was relying on “pile and search” via tags.) So, I merely shifted the burden of organization from a visual cue (which notebook) to a mental one (which tag). AS I write this, I casually glance at my Evernote sidebar to see how many of those tags I have to recall: um, I can’t tell!!!

    Anyway, I recently decided to go BACK to using new notebooks on a project by project basis. It mirrors my whole take on file / content organization, from Scrivener to browser bookmarks to good old Windows Explorer. I wish I could ditch tht last one, but Microsoft, in its hubris, has woven it into the fabric of the OS like a varicose vein.

    Can I have a cookie? I need to decompress. LOL

    Cheers,

    Mitch

  2. Over the river and through the woods…
    You’re in charge off the cookies today. There’s an endless supply in the magic oven, so be sure to share!

    Thank you, Mitch. I meant I need to stop ripping pages out of blank books when I fail to jot down the essence of an idea as perfectly as it sounded in my head.Or when I hate my handwriting. Perfectionism is a curse that serves no-one well.

    For electronic notes, I love OneNote. And I hear you – I use OneNote for better bookmarking, myself.

    • Anklebuster says:

      I tried to like OneNote. Maybe it’s Evernote bias, but I couldn’t rewire my brain to “get” OneNote. Interestingly, I had the same trouble with Scrivener. The difference between Scrivener and OneNote is that I had no usable alternative for Scrivener and I needed what it provided.

      I understand now, what you were trying to convey about ripping pages. But, isn’t that acceptable, perfectionnism? If we don’t, who will? LOL. (Seriously, though, 99% of ideas suck, once written. But if you don’t write them down and rip them up or whatever, you risk losing the 1% of ideas worth pursuing.)

      Cheers,

      Mitch

      • Perfectionism is a disease. It doesn’t mean you’ll ever BE perfect or attain perfection – it means you’ll kill yourself or die trying. I like the old definition of “quality”: “Meets the customer’s REASONABLE expectations, on time and under budget.” Exceeding those expectations, sometimes, is fun. But consistently striving for perfection may just drive you nuts. And, in my case, it’s a waste of dead trees.

        It took me a few years to use OneNote effectively, but now it’s like a second brain. I love it. I don’t much love the app, but it’s getting better, too. I love the desktop version that comes with Office 365. They ARE different. And I’m not sure I understand the reason for the different paradigm – like autosave (there’s no way to “save”) and some limitations in terms of formatting. (But you can use handwriting and highlighters and such.

        It’s great for bookmarking and as a digital scrapbook. Not sure it’s a Scrivener replacement (talk about a software application I’d love to love, but it takes too much work even to like it).

  3. Mike Goad says:

    Thanks for the reminder! I’ve been up two hours and haven’t had my coffee or breakfast, yet. Sometimes I do that.

    I don’t need any cookies. Karen did her baking for Christmas, less than she used to, by far, but still way too much.

    I never do resolutions, but I am resolved to lose weight. I have to for health reasons. My next visit to the cardiologist is in a month and I want to be at least a few pounds down from the last visit.

    So far as what’s on my mind, it’s nothing special. I don’t have to remember what my schedule is like next week or the week after… because there is no “fixed” schedule. If I need to make any an appointment, the only limitation is, “Don’t make it too early, but just about any day works for me.”

    You see, last Wednesday was my last last day of work. I say “last” twice because I’ve had a lot of last days, all at the same place. I retired in 2007 — and then came back as a contract instructor 6 times, working in a different office every time. Funny thing, our group had 7 office in that part of the building and, in the last 10 years, I had a desk in every one except the office I was working in when I retired.

    • So, I can’t get a tour of the facilities through you, next time I’m in Russellville?

      I hope you, Karen, and all your family had a terrific Christmas. We all eat too much at Thanksgiving and Christmas, setting ourselves up for a tough January full of resolve and determination, but I have no regrets. What I DO have are new jeans that I failed to notice are not the “relaxed fit” of my old ones, and so present a slight – but not insurmountable – challenge and incentive. You will not be alone in working towards your weight loss goals. I’d like to lose at least 1.5 lbs. per week through the next 40 weeks. (How’s that for Specific, Measurable, Aspirational, Reasonable, and Time-Bound? Pretty darned SMART, if I do say so myself! ๐Ÿ™‚ Let’s do the darned thing.) My health concern is mainly “lightening the load” for spine, hips, knees, and feet. Shopping easy, commonly-found sizes off the rack. Being stronger and having greater endurance. I’ve definitely made inroads over the past year. Just have to keep doing what I know works. I’ll be rooting for you, too!

      I’ve never gone back to work at any place that’s let me go or that I’ve left, and I wouldn’t rule it out – based on how many people I’ve seen do it – but I don’t really understand it, either. I had a coworker, many years ago, who left and returned twice. During the first stint, he hit me in the parking garage, then told everyone who’d listen about the bad, blond, woman driver. Between the second return and the last, I called him to ask a question about the parts of his job I’d taken on. He told me “F*** you, I don’t work there anymore.” You should’ve seen the look on his face during the third stint – we were “introduced” by his new manager, and I just smiled my best “f*** you” smile. He was very nice to me after that… ๐Ÿ˜‰

      I think retirement will be lovely and fun – once I get there (20 years, by my estimation). The trick is to have a list of fun things to do, and enough set aside (knock wood!) to do them. Have a PLAN for it.

      Happy holidays! I wish you all good things in 2018.

      • Mike says:

        Actually, except for the training center, there really haven’t been tours of the facilities since 9-11. And so far as going into the facility, I’ve only been inside the fence twice in 11 years, both times as an escorted visitor. On all of my contracts, I worked at the training center, which is quite a ways outside the fence.

        My work was so specialized to this one facility that it made sense, to me, to continue there if the contracts were available — and they were, except for the almost two year period when I was “blackballed” from working at any plant in the fleet, which no one told me about until they were “allowed” to bring me back in as a contractor (but that is a whole other story that I don’t go into online since that’s where I got in trouble in the first place). Some of the other guys went on to contract elsewhere in similar or totally different jobs. I just wasn’t interested in having to be at a learning disadvantage in another place, when I was the go-to training expert for a number of different things on our unit. When I finished last week, I was, by far, the last of the original group of simulator instructors.

        If someone called me about something at work, I’d be more than happy to answer them. That’s simply professional courtesy in my view.

        Happy New Year! All the best for 2018 and beyond!

      • That sounds about right; even before 9/11, back when I worked at SABRE, I never actually laid eyes on the SABRE computers – they were underground in an area so secure you needed a retinal scan and a weight check to get in. I was never really that curious. And yes – we never discuss work online. I blogged a work event, once, and the only criticism I got was that they’d asked me to do it because they liked my social media persona, but when I was doing social media for work, I switched to this buttoned-down, careful, corporate voice. So, basically “loosen up and have more fun.” Some of us have been around long enough to smell a trap, even when there isn’t one. LOL I can remember hammering out an agreement (largely unnecessary) with my employer in the mid-1990s as to what types of products I should avoid mentioning or reviewing, and the fact that they would never make an IP claim on any fiction I chose to write on my own time, while employed by them. (Overcautious? Probably. But then it opened the door to working well with Legal, over the years, so it’s all good.) Things have changed, over the years, but if you have ever seen anything I’ve blogged in the past, you’ll understand the copious disclosures of potential conflicts of interest.

        Like you, I cannot imagine being rude to a former coworker. I’m not always “nice,” but hope that I’m never rude to anyone.

  4. Holly, these are the kinds of posts I like best. They’re a tiny peek into your life and what you’re thinking these days. My life these days is about writing faster (because I’m getting older), trying to get healthier and less creaky through more gentle movements and eating better, and enjoying every moment of every day. I plan on reading more, writing more, and lallygagging more as well. I might need an additional two hours each day to reach my goals. ๐Ÿ˜€

    • Thank you, Patricia. I’ve always thought of a blog as part journal and part writing outlet. I’d like to look back on it and think it was worth your time to read, so I appreciate the reassurance and encouragement. After all, if it were just for me to read, I could keep it in a lock-and-key paper diary. I’m not very good at those. Maybe because I’ve always assumed no diary could truly keep a secret, and if there’s even one reader reading, it ought to at least not be boring. ๐Ÿ™‚ As an only child, maybe I have a different take on that; I can see wanting to bore a younger sibling to death for prying. But I do remember when my daughter found (and read) a blank book I’d started when she was a baby, and her asking me why I stopped writing in it. It made me happy that she’d enjoyed reading it, but sad that I’d stopped. All I could say, in my defense, is that life took precedence, and doing things with her were more important, at the time, than writing about them. I didn’t really envision the day she’d read that, and I should have. Of course, that’s a cautionary tale for all the “mommy bloggers” and “daddy bloggers” out there. Will the posts make their kids smile, one day, or cause them to stop speaking to their parents for a decade or more? I imagine some started blogging back when they could have rightfully assumed digital storage was costly enough that no one would archive their drivel on The Wayback Machine, to embarrass their adult children. Mine might wonder why I didn’t blog about them, much, but I think they’re glad I didn’t document every diaper change in public.

  5. Josabeth Comandante says:

    Let’s have coffee, and Merry Christmas, Holly!

  6. I want a cookie! lol That would have to work because I don’t drink coffee; if it’s early morning I’d need a diet soda packed with ice. If it was lunch I’d need the same; same with dinner. If it was mid afternoon then I could have hot chocolate; those cookies would go well with them.

    As to the rest… I’d wish good things for you as well. I’d admit that the only resolve I have seems to be getting my steps in daily, but you’d already know that. I don’t have any confessions I’d want to share, so I’d be holding back on that one. Goodies… my wife’s still trying to teach me to share.

    I need to be more grateful in 2018, which I could start by writing more often in my gratitude journal. But I’d tell you that I was grateful that I was able to get my mother here, but sad that I didn’t do it sooner.

    That would be all that’s on my mind… that and pizza.

    • My grandmother drank Coca-Cola every day of her life – starting with breakfast. Neither of us ever liked the taste of the diet version (we weren’t fans of “New Coke,” either – and the “Classic” isn’t, but that could be a post in and of itself).

      Your steps are impressive. Daunting, but impressive. Some days, I look at your stats and I’m inspired to push through and go a little farther. But mostly, I look at your stats and give up – I go binge-watch Netflix or something till the urge to wear out my living room carpet goes away.

      I need fewer goodies in the coming months, so you don’t have to share with ME.

      I didn’t know you had a gratitude journal. Maybe we should start doing an end of the week gratitude post? This has been a tough year for remembering all the good and positive things in our lives (I tend to empathize too much – not that I think that’s a bad character trait, but spending more mental clock-cycles on strangers’ suffering than on my own blessings isn’t healthy). My daughter earned her Masters degree and married a truly wonderful man, this year – I gained a grown son, and we all like him very much. We had a lovely family reunion, and I’ve gotten to spend time with my dad, and one of my cousins (my husband kindly shares his mom, siblings, and cousins with me, so I have a big family now!) Our home wasn’t damaged in the hurricane; my office was, but that’s allowed me to work from home for months (which I LOVE, because there’s no commute and no distraction from the work).

      I’m glad you’re getting this time with your mom, and that she’s got you and your wife to care for her. It’s a challenge, I know, some days. But she looks like a sweetheart and she’s your mom. You turned out pretty good, so now she gets to reap the rewards. ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s a blessing for you both, I think.

      MMmmmm. Pizza. Anchovies? On half? Or do we have to segregate them from the rest of the pizza?

  7. Peter Wright says:

    If we were having coffee, it would have to be after 10:00 am as with my English heritage, I always prefer tea in the morning.

    I would compliment you on your amazing ability to not only tolerate, but actually listen to and debate with, people like me with whom you might disagree on many issues.

    Of course we agree on many others, civilized debate and respecting other’s opinions (no matter how crazy at first exposure they may seem).

    Merry Christmas Holly and may you fill 2018 with words, thoughts and ideas to entertain, educate and enlighten your readers.

    I am grateful that our paths crossed (virtually) some years back and your example has made me a better person and writer.

    • I wish we could have coffee, one of these days. I can wait till 10:00 – or join you for a second, or third, cup.

      I don’t really tolerate anyone, Peter. I enjoy people of diverse backgrounds, experiences, and ideas. I don’t have to agree with you to like you. I don’t have to like you, for that matter, to stick up for your rights. I don’t have to tolerate nastiness from anyone, and have blocked friends for being nasty to other friends. I don’t believe in merely tolerating people, for the most part. But I also don’t think it’s a matter of “tolerating” people when, perhaps, I don’t like their lifestyle or choices. I think it’s a matter of not inflicting MY lifestyle and choices on others when they’re not hurting me or other people. They don’t get to inflict themselves on me, either. If a rational case can be made that I, or they, are doing HARM to others, then it’s a question of whether the harm outweighs a person’s right to freely live and direct their own life and pursue happiness. I think our Constitution is, for the most part, a remarkable and enduring document.

      But really, how can we learn, grow, and form rational opinions if we’re unwilling to listen to each other’s arguments? Not to shout AT each other, but to civilly debate ideas on the merits? And how can we learn to do that, without practice? Facebook and Twitter can be a great place to practice, but they also tend to bring out the ugly – the very “trollish” behavior that shuts people down, polarizes sentiment, and causes them to become more and more entrenched in their own little “echo chambers” rather than engaging with a diverse set of people all over the world? Engaging with people from all over the world is a great way to learn just how much we all really have in common, and to discover the differences that make us interesting and broaden our perspectives? I’m so lucky that I was able to travel a lot from the time I was a child. It’s something I don’t take for granted, and I know that it’s helped make me the person I am today.

      I truly enjoy our friendship, Peter, and you are no more grateful than I am that our paths crossed years ago. Your stories are fascinating to me. You are resilience incarnate, and such a great example of what it means to work hard, face devastating setbacks without becoming bitter and hateful, and go on to succeed and find happiness. Knowing you keeps me from getting whiny over little disappointments. ๐Ÿ™‚ You are one of my favorite conservatives.

      I wish you all good things in the coming year, and look forward to hearing about them!

      • Peter Wright says:

        Thank you Holly, those are the nicest words about me I have read in a long time.

        Yes, I understand your distinction between tolerance and being open to hearing different opinions.

        A trip to your part of the world is on my bucket list, we will have that coffee yet. (or tea)

  8. If I was having that coffee with you, Holly, I’d thank you for being there for me through the year. I distinctly remember that one conversation we had that helped me more than you’d ever imagine. Thank you too for your advice and help to many in Write Tribe. You are a blessing!
    I wish you the kind of year you want for yourself and more! Thank you for being a part of my world!

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