Saturday, April 17, 2010

Coffee break

Everybody needs a way to relax. Some people do retail therapy and go shopping on Michigan Avenue. Some people knit sweaters for their dogs, who often either look really happy to wear them or really annoyed.
Some people go to ball games; lately I've been seeing several Cubs fans filling up the trains as they head for Wrigley Field. Even though I've lived in Chicago for several years, I've only ever been to one Cubs game, and that was before I even moved to the city. I went to a Cubs game in high school, during my senior trip. Maybe it's because I'm not interested in sports, but going to a ball game wasn't that relaxing for me because there were some drunk guys behind me who kept yelling at the players. I've never really understood why people yell insults at the players, especially since the ones with the bats could easily go after them, or perhaps use their excellent pitching skills to knock one of the hecklers out. But on the other hand, I admired the players for ignoring them and just focusing on playing the game.

How do I relax? Once a week I go to a coffeehouse, order a flavored frozen coffee and a cookie, and sit in a comfortable chair. Then I usually spend about an hour writing in my journal. It's always a relief to write something that's not for school or work, because when I write in my journal it's my chance to escape from everything else and just focus on writing my own stories.

Before I go to the coffeehouse, I always think of all the work I still have to do. The sensible thing would be to just stay home and keep working; that way no hour would go wasted. But I don't view my weekly "escape" as a waste of time. I need to have even just one hour a week that's just for me or I wouldn't be able to handle everything else. Even though I am a workaholic, I recognize that it's important to take time off every now and then and do something fun.

I learned my lesson the hard way several years ago. Before iTunes became popular, I used to listen to CDs at Borders in order to learn about new artists and decide whose music I wanted to buy. I remember being at Borders one day and listening to Norah Jones' new CD. I'd never heard of her before but really liked her music. It turned out that she was going to be performing at that Borders and signing copies of her album. I was tempted to go. I was working all the time, as usual, and I thought it'd be fun to take time off, listen to a new artist, and get her autograph. But I was sensible and stayed home instead to get some work done. Soon after that, Norah Jones won a bunch of Grammys for her album and became a superstar. And I wanted to kick myself for giving up the opportunity to see her, because now it would probably cost a lot of money to watch her perform when I could have seen her at Borders for free.

So now I write in coffeehouses every week. Because everybody needs a break, even me.

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