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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Resolution: Twelve cups of coffee

It is no big secret that I am a coffee lover.  Ever since that fateful day in 11th grade when I needed to stay up late for a project and my mother quietly handed me a cup, I have been completely hooked.  I find it’s taste remarkable, and it’s effects magnificent.
Even more than the physical effects (think: ZING!) is the way that something as simple as a cup of coffee can bring people together.  While I admit that most of my coffee consumption is done in a hurried fashion, there are rare and beautiful times when I do get to just sit.  And sip.  And enjoy.
But like heads, when enjoying coffee two are better than one.  The social interactions that take place over a cup are what make it great, as if some mystical powers of truth and connection are grown into each bean, only to be released as it fills a ceramic mug.  Coffee brings people together, be it neighbors, family, friends, or even acquaintances.  
I have specific memories of coffee warming my belly and my heart in my own life, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.  When my husband and I were dating, we frequently stopped at the nearest gas station for 20 oz. of power for our long trips.  My grandparents have made the same brand of coffee their whole lives, using the same amount of scoops, and I think the same mugs.  Even a smell of that stuff whisks me away to playing cards on the flowered tablecloth.  I can only hope to create new memories with my kids someday, when they grow out of the “ew it’s so gross mom how can you drink it?” stage which I’ll never understand because they’ve been living with it their entire lives.
But while I wait for that day, I have decided to come up with a new plan to create connections over a cup of coffee.  You might even go as far as to call it a resolution for the year, albeit a little late in the game.  
Each month this year, I am vowing to meet someone for a cup of coffee.  Or tea or hot chocolate, if that’s how they’re going to play it.  And when it comes to the person involved, I don’t want it to be someone I see or chat with on a regular basis.  I want to find new people to make connections with in my life, whether it be an old friend or potentially a new one.  It can be a peer or a colleague, young or old.  Just someone different.
In this world of social media and screen-time friendships, I have gotten the chance to know so many new people.  Status updates allow me to track their days, and photos offer a peek into what the world looks through their eyes.  But even the most prolific poster can’t smile at me and fill my ears with the sound of their voice.  Even a colleague, whom you may pass each day countless times but never have a chance to stop.  Those are the people I would like to spend my twelve cups with.  Those are the people I want to hear speak and tell me about their lives and share their thoughts and ideas.  And I’m pretty sure that, by the end of this year, I will have figured out the secret of life, solved all of the problems of the world, know exactly how to raise children, have new recipes, and of course, be the proud owner of a full-punched coffee club card everywhere in town.

Monday, February 11, 2013

You'll chip your eye out

Quick note to subscribers and blog readers: I have been asked by my editor to post my columns one month past print date.  This should explain the big gap of time since my last post...how did you ever survive?  Keep in mind that these are all just a smidge out of date, so send yourself back four weeks while reading.  Thanks!

There are really specific moments in parenting that make it all worth the while.  Obviously I could name a few of the sentimental ones like when they first say “I love you,” or take their first steps or two-wheeled bike ride, or other such sappiness.  Instead I’m going to tell you the story of one such moment that keeps me giggling and wiping the tears away from my wounded eye each time I think of it.
We have three children, and the odds of them ever going to sleep soundly and early are truly not in our favor.  It seems that someone always needs something or simply can’t sleep, or by the time they all fall asleep the two of us are so exhausted that we collapse on the spot.  So it goes without saying that when the miraculous happens and we hear all three kids snoring away and we’re still awake, we do what we rarely get to do.
We sit on the couch and read books.  
And we drink hot tea and beverages that stain carpet and burn skin when knocked over.  And we do not have to listen to the roar of children’s programming on television.  It is a real treat, to say the least.
It happened to be a dark winter night when we found ourselves just in this situation.  He sat himself on a chair with the soft glow of his e-reader lighting his night, and I on the couch snuggled under a blanket with an actual paper book that I had started about the time paper was invented and was finally getting a chance to finish.  A puppy curled up at my feet, we were basking in the peacefulness of the evening.
Engrossed in my book, I didn’t see him get up and head to the pantry for a bag of potato chips.  In our house, chips are coveted.  Knowing that a bag will be devoured in mere seconds by people who should not be eating a bag of potato chips, I rarely purchase them, so I knew just what he was doing.  He was having a snack knowing full well that the slumbering kids would not rip it from his hands and inhale every last crumb.  And although I didn’t see him, I heard him.  The telltale “crunch” of a good, solid kettle cooked bit of tasty wonder that made me start to salivate.  Instantly, I could think of nothing else and even though my waistline was saying “no!” my taste buds could take it no longer.
“Durnnit.  Now I need some chips,” I said and uncovered myself and stood up to reach for the bag.
Funny things happen when you’ve been married for a while.  You know each other’s wants and needs and it so happens that the instant I stood up to reach for a chip, he tossed nice, crisp, big one in my direction.  I imagine in slow motion it would have been quite epic because somehow, against all odds and laws of physics, that potato chip he tossed hit me square in the eye.  Not near the eye, not the eyebrow, not even between the eyes.  He literally chipped my eye out.
If you’ve ever been hit with a kettle chip in the ol’ peeper, you know the salty pain that follows.  You know the feeling of your poor eyeball being bruised by a snack high in fat and calories.  
I’m guessing, however, that most people don’t.  Let me tell you, your eye begin to water, you clutch your face in pain, and you double over laughing so loud that waking up the kids would be OK because this is the funniest thing that’s happened to you in weeks.  Once you realize that you haven’t lost vision, you’re good to go.
For me, eventually the pain subsided and I settled back in with my book and my blanket and a tissue to wipe my weeping eye.  And, of course, the whole rest of the bag of chips.

Send eyeball condolences to KarrieMcAllister@aol.com.

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