2023-12-29 on intricacy2023-11-22 finding the desire2023-07-07 American Truck Simulator and Depictions of Home2023-06-28 Illustration School, Art Perceptions, and Extended Burnout2023-04-11 coffee shop2023-03-23 The Sorrows of Young Werther, Perspectives in Fiction, Reading Habits2023-03-21 recluse, sentiment, dust, embrace - small thoughts

mmm coffy

There's a coffee shop my sister and I frequent, 15 minutes up north. Usually we go because we both have a whole bunch of homework to do and we've been languishing in our bedrooms, letting deadlines creep up. It occupies the need of a place to go late at night that isn't too far away. I've developed a bit of an attachment to it, because of that. It's not a great coffee shop by any metric, but it stands in for some sort of vague sense of community at an hour where very little else does. Surrounding Space

The southern valley, in all of its pseudo-smalltown mormon-ness, tends to close up shop early. There's hardly an urban center within 20 miles, much less one that feels accessible or good to walk around and hang out in when the sun sets. Kids crop up in grocery story parking lots, they get chased out of the parking lots eventually, they move to different parking lots, the cycle repeats. The lot I remember was the place in high school is empty by night nowadays. Nobody really has anywhere to go to exist on their own terms that isn't defined by consumer culture or its own liminality. The suburban haze, permanent youth and family upbringing as the center of gravity, after dark there's not much space to wander. The southern valley is too new to have anything historic, urban, kept by time. It's all stilted up by wide roads and distance.

It feels like I should be studying and hanging out somewhere else, but the coffee shop ends up being the only "place" you can go to past the hour of 8:00PM. I get the feeling that's what keeps it busy above all else. It acts as a sort of sponge for the anxiety induced by a lack of meaningful space. There's a familiarity that grows over time, common faces and names. From the window you can see the lights kept on at the gym, tanning salon and coworking space in the same shopping complex. Next door there's a bakery, across the way is a Little Caesars. Some, like us, use it as a late night library study space. There are signs taped to the tables indicating explicitly that it is not that--you have to buy a drink. Please. Public service is off limits here. The tape is worn at the edges and has disappeared from some of the tables over time, having certainly been picked at and pulled off. Unfortunately all the hours I want to go to the library are the hours they're unavailable to me (this is the biggest disadvantage of working for one).

The Coffee Shop as a Coffee Shop

I've never once actually had coffee at the coffee shop. The drinks themselves, are just okay. I never get to taste their coffee because I only come here past 5:00 and I enjoy sleeping at decent hours. It's the only place that I like to ask for honey in my herbal teas regularly. They're all fairly sweet on their own (I assume they're flavored), so some honey makes it fulfill the same itch to me as a soda would. "Tulsi Mango Peach" is my favorite sickly-sweet herbal tea I've had in a while. The tables are plastic and sometimes wobbly, the chairs aren't too comfortable (a fair number of them are stools). There are a few couches tucked into the corners of the space. Putting a couch into a space automatically makes it feel like a "zone", and it's a sweet gesture. It's cozy enough, though I don't usually sit at the couches because they're squishy enough that typing becomes uncomfortable. Covid did something funny to public spaces and interior design. For a while, everything was completely spaced out and being even remotely pleasing became a non-priority. These guys seemed to have bounced back from that at this point but there are still things to miss. Historic photos indicate that there was once wooden flooring as well as tables in the front of the space to help things feel a little more dense. I asked my sister about the flooring and she told me there wasn't much to miss, it was cheap laminate at best. There's an extended parking lot to the side of the shop that I've never seen used. Apparently automotive hobby groups and showings meet here, I've yet to see it. Maybe this is more of a springtime activity. The secondary lot doesn't get plowed and there's no footsteps in the snow, but it's twice as brightly lit as all of its surroundings.


In the corner by the door, there's a vending machine that dispenses stickers that are sourced by local artists. It's the type of vending machine that's deeply satisfying to operate, with the slots that you push a row of coins into and it pulls something on its way out. These machines are ran by a few people who dub it the "Local Artist Sticker Machine", and they reoccur in a whole bunch of corners throughout the valley. I try to bring a few quarters each time I come, in case there's a new selection that seems fun. This fits in really well with the recent sticker collecting habit I've taken up. Last time I was there as of writing this post, I got two of the stickers I've wanted for a while.

The barista told me to have good luck with the stickers when I asked for quarter change, I think it helped. This is the same guy that calls out all of the hot chocolate orders as "hot choccy" - I think this makes him more powerful. Outside on the lampposts, the handicap parking signs and just about any other space you could think to put any, there are stickers accumulating. This is in line with just about any hangout zone you could find. The town I live in has a terrible lack of stickers (aside from apparently links to stinky news outlets stuck to stop signs that persist for years), which makes this something that feels special to me.

My favorite sticker. A wombat that has persisted. A lot of people study here, which means that people bring their laptops that are covered in stickers. It's really difficult for me to resist staring at people because of this. I have a memory of seeing a programming student who had pokemon, buff anime men, and programming bootcamp stickers, all in a row. It was sparse on there. He carried a sketchbook and began taking notes several times. He erased all of them and walked out with nothing on the page but smudged pencil.


The bathrooms above the halfway point of the wall are covered in chalkboard paint to sublimate the urges of any would-be vandals. The walls get wiped down halfheartedly, leaving a layer of dust representing a wash of all the markings before it. Water carries the chalk dust, pilled up and drying across the surface, motion arcs of the act of cleaning. The chalk itself has long since been stolen. As a result, people with sharpies go straight for the tile. Literary discourse, Instagram handles, profanities.

I've taken to drawing the "autism creature" on the wall every time I can. There was another creature on the wall recently, and it felt like a response several ways down, an abstraction of form as a response to me. I drew another autism creature and implied that they were good friends and loved each other. In that moment I felt a sense of community.

*(note before publishing - on second thought, somehow this other creature looks familiar to me. if you've ever seen him before please message me and let me know who he is.)

I've never indulged the urge to tag anything without an invitation, so to me it's more reminiscent of the pizza restaurant up by the university that lets you take paint marker to the brick walls. I think there are still at least 5 Jade Deers drawn on there in bright orange. If you know where this is, you can look for them yourself. They're on the middle dividing wall on the side facing away from the door - some of them are below the tables.


I think some of the impetus behind writing this post has to do with the long winter we've had here. There hasn't been a chance to get outside, and school has been rough. Coming to a coffee shop seems to hone in focus a little bit and take off a bit of that pressure. I've been trying to cultivate a perception that my immediate surroundings are special to me to bring a bit of joy. There are a lot of odd corners of the world to fixate on. thanks for reading thanks for stopping by. i hope things are well.