photography, process, therapy, work


Layers of pretty lies crowd your craft,
allowing only diffused light to get through –
not your full shine
that is left at the door
that cracks open every third heart beat,
and only wide enough to slip one iris by
to catch glimpses 
of the work that visited you last night
and told the story of you.
Marivic Pinedo
May 1, 2017

What do you do at a coffee shop?

coffee, creativity, work
Red Leaf

A lovely leaf in my soy latte

I was just surfing the internet for a scarf pattern to knit. You know what happens when you do that, you end up checking e-mail and your Google reader to see who’s updated their blog or website, and I saw this from the Seattle Sketcher:

Zachary Carlsen: “Laptops have killed coffee shops”

When I go to a coffee shop, I take my journal, a book, and any internet activities are done on my cell phone. I order a macciato and a small pastry to nibble on and to sip on while I gather my thoughts. I could never work at a coffee shop because I see it as a place for pleasure, creativity, and conversation. I like coffee shops, why would I ruin that experience with work? A coffee shop is a place where I want it to be my time to do my things. I work at work where I have a nice desk my company provides for me and an ergonomic set up that I can’t get anywhere else, especially at a coffee shop table that is too high and the keyboard not at the right height. It’s a place and time to think and be with my thoughts and I do enjoy the feel of good paper under my hand and a nice pen that works with my penmanship. On a good day, I’ll follow up that macciato with a short soy latte or short americano. I never use a straw. I always slurp, and I have the stained teeth to prove it.

In addition to the drink, when I think of a coffee shop, I envision a romantic, renaissance, and liberal type of setting. A place for creative juices to flow, discuss philosophy, chat with friends, or just people watch. I see it as a place you can do all these things while wearing a scarf, fingerless gloves, and have stained hands from working and messy hair.

This week, after I pulled out my journal, took a deep breath, and put my pen to my notebook, I looked to my right and saw 8 laptops with their owners gazing into their glowing screens. I didn’t think I was better than they were. It was just kind of surreal. This isn’t what a coffee shop looks like in my imagination and from what I’ve experienced in my earlier coffee drinking years. I think I saw a third of them with coffee mugs, but I really can’t recall. I don’t know. They were just mousing, clicking, scanning, and typing away. Usually with a pinched look between their brows.

These people were probably doing what people have always done. They may have been editing photographs or doing graphic design, or enjoying great music, writing a term paper, working on an audit, blogging, checking Facebook, or writing a friend in another part of the world. With that in mind, there was no room to judge. People COULD be working, but these days, you can do anything on a laptop and those are the same things I could do with a pen and piece of paper, or even a napkin to doodle on.

So have laptops killed the coffee shop? I can’t go that far. What I will say that it does alter the physical landscape of what a coffee shop looks like, which is that it looks like people are working, which interferes with the idea of the kind of coffee shop people like me see – a place with great mugs, great coffee, friends, or a journal to empty your thoughts.