Tag Archives: Cafe

How To Enjoy The Perfect Latte’: Part II

Alternate Title: How To Actually Make a Latte’

Knowing your way around an espresso machine, take the double shot espresso handle out, empty it with a few bangs if it’s full, scrape any excess grinds out and then fill with extra fine ground espresso grinds.

Fresh Espresso

Tamp and twist firmly with a tamper until it’s packed perfectly then attach it to the espresso machine with a quarter turn to the right. Place the desired coffee holding vessel underneath and begin to pour the shot.

Gorgeous Crema

While the shot is pouring, steam your milk, whole milk for a flat white, 2% if for a regular latte and skim for those strange people who like them skinny. Soy or Almond Milk steams slightly differently, we’ll just pretend no one asked for that today. Fill the steaming cup with a bit more very cold milk than you will need, add a thermometer, then put the steam nozzle all the way to the bottom and turn on the steam by turning the nob to the left.

A barista steams milk for the 'Barista Throwdown' competition.

Open it nearly all the way and slowly raise the nozzle to the surface of the milk, and tilt the cup to get a swirling motion going in the milk, as the volume increases hold your position until the temperature of the milk reaches 140 degrees F, be particularly careful not to exceed 160, it’ll burn the milk. Remove nozzle once the correct temperature is reached and there is evidence of the microfoam you’re looking for, the soft tiny bubbles that leave the top looking like thick wet paint. Skim milk will naturally look less creamy, and if you’re doing a cappuccino feel free to steam with harder foam, bigger bubbles by lifting the nozzle slightly out of the milk while steaming for quick bursts.

The owner of the cafe foams milk for waiting customers.

Once the shot is done pouring, grab your milk and a spoon if desired and pour the milk over the shot. Use a spoon to separate the milk from the foam as you pour, or just pour more quickly and wait as it separates in the cup. There will be a bit more foam this way.

wonderfulpalmettolife:    myviewfromsomewhere:    (via (1) Tammy Lovrich / Pinterest)    (via TumbleOn)

To achieve the latte art design, tilt the mug and pour onto the side of the mug then in strategic motions, breaking through the espresso crema (or film ontop), wavering and wobbling the milk rhythmically then cutting across the top of the circles made will produce the iconic heart or rosette shape in your latte. Garnish with cinnamon or cocoa if desired, now sit back and enjoy your home made perfect latte!

Now repeat 100 times a day and curse the uselessness of your joint major Honours Science Degree in Psychology and Anthropology.

Latte’ Art Tutorial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NItrlTwbvAU

.NOM
-Hailey Jane


How To Enjoy The Perfect Latte’: Part I

Nothing quite hits the spot on a rainy afternoon like a cup of hot, dark, rich and creamy espresso. A comfortable push of motivation in the onwards and upwards direction. They are the most wonderful thing to enjoy, but first, you’ve got to acquire one.

You have two basic options. The first includes going out into the world to find the perfect little cafe on a drizzly main street.

City rain

In a semi-lit room with brick and terracotta coloured walls, the atmosphere envelops you and a thick warm smell of coffee drifts into your nose as you walk inside to shake off your umbrella and coat from the cool autumn rain. Looking up, seeing all of the other wayward souls that stop momentarily here for fleeting moments in their lives, passing them without too much thought a face greets you over a counter with a nonchalant acknowledgement through thick dark glasses.

Coffee shop

You hear the faint melancholy chords of a Neil Young or Leonard Cohen song and the subtle clinking of coffee mugs as a worker clears away the perfect table by the window. Once given the go ahead, you ask for your latte and make the decision for a fresh scone as well, Or was it the biscotti? You hear the steamer whistle as your milk is made ready, and glance around at the local art that hangs on the walls.

Cappuccino

Before you know it, your beverage is being handed to you in exchange for a handful of coins that until just now had lived in the bottom of your jeans pocket. On top of the delicious coffee in your bright ceramic mug there is a gorgeous layer of the tiniest microbubbles that make up a soft, smooth and heavenly foam. Much to your pleasant surprise there is an arrangement of swooping and bending dark coloured espresso lines tracing their way through the foam, leaving behind a gorgeous heart shaped pattern. You almost feel guilty, being about to eat it and all, but not guilty enough to stop you.

Ever so gently walking over to that perfect table by the rain spotted window, sitting down and letting all the tension flow out your feet. Relaxed, you pick up your mug, close your eyes and sip strongly and deeply. A small, light patch of foam sticks to your top lip but it is no matter, you have successfully enjoyed a perfect latte.

-Hailey Jane


There’s Nothing Worse Than Getting What You Want

Life lesson time…

(Because I don’t have kids to instil this valuable knowledge into…and my dog doesn’t really seem interested.)

Noting my credentials as your friendly local Blogger, I would seriously ask you to reconsider making a living (or a small fraction of one in my case) off of what you like doing most. Your hobbies, your favourite things to escape into. Don’t, I repeat, DO NOT aspire to make it your day job.

Some arbitrary examples that in no way refer to things I’ve done in the past:

Say you’re around twenty one years old, and you really REALLY love books. Like…not just reading them, but searching them out, smelling them, particularly the old yellowing pages of volumes once loved by someone else for years. Your heart flutters at the feel of fraying bindings, and the rough texture of a hardcover that’s lived an exciting life. You think, “Gosh, I’d be infinitely happy if only I could be surrounded by these ageing bodies of wisdom and knowledge all day every day…My dream job would be to work in that there local used bookstore.”


Bookshelf

All sounds fine and dandy as you dream about blowing the dust off of boxes of linguistic treasure, finding a new home for these magical collections of life stories, scientific texts and fiction that challenges the literary genius of Nabokov or Tolstoy. Then one day, you are made aware of an opening at said local used bookstore for part time work. This news makes your day. The friend of yours who worked there was moving on, which left a vacancy that you are tickled pink to have the chance to fill. She puts in a good word for you. Because why wouldn’t they want to hire you, you are vastly overqualified in both formal education and general knowledge of worldly things. And of course…you “Absolutely adore books” which is said at least twice during the interview that you are over the moon to receive. Regardless of the terrible hours and lack of government approved pay rate, you are happy to start your life as a clever purveyor of books, and  feel also like you are preforming an important social service, helping those in need find the words they are looking for that will change their life.

You start by shelving the ‘new intakes’, and a quick look at the box reveals that they are all absolute fluff. One hundred percent old lady porn. Romance novels all bent along the spine where the dirty bits are. You quickly learn that this particular shop specializes in a lending library sort of system where old books are bought and sold back to the store by old ladies who get their kicks reading about unrealistic love affairs between knights and princesses, long haired Fabio types and fragile female characters who can’t think for themselves. Hundreds come in and out every day. The other half of business is divided up between mystery novels, Sci-Fi, Grisham and Patterson type Fiction and whatever new releases you manage to get in. Which is approximately ten. Because no one sells their brand new books right away. There is a respite in the depressing Non-Fiction section in the back, but it unfortunately looks like a bomb went off and the dust only just settled. Stacks of DIY and irrelevant biographies lay everywhere and you better have a winning lottery ticket in your pocket if you’re looking for a specific book back there.

You learn your boss lives in the back room with his cat, and is not exactly the friendly, eccentric old bookstore owner that you imagined. But an angry easily perturbed man in the crisis point of his life, who takes groups fishing for too much money when the weather is nice. After being in charge of the store when a customer accidentally broke a lamp, and to then have a strip torn off you by the boss for it, you feel like maybe this five dollar an hour business isn’t exactly worth it.

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Say you’re around twenty four years old, after months of applying for jobs in this new city you moved to nearly a year ago, and after a terrible bout working as a cashier at a grocery superstore which made you want to choke people with different kinds of produce, you get a chance to work at the Holy Grail of National book companies. The holder of the literary monopoly from Sea to shining Sea, the keeper of all that is new and exciting in the world of the precious book! Of course you’re going to say yes to a position at the helm of this (arguably, sinking) industry! Or at least you figure close to the helm, as who interviews you seems like they’re in charge (Spoiler: You are wrong). You agree to a minimum wage start, because it sounds like there is lots of opportunity for raise and promotion.

new bookstore

What they don’t tell you, is, you will get all of the worst shifts, be called in last minute nearly weekly and be criticized and humiliated if ‘heaven forbid’ you have plans on your day off. The person in charge is a megalomaniac from the BIG city who apparently only knows Business 101 Buzzwords like ” Our Process” and “Streamline” or “Zeitgeist”, “Paradigm Shift”, “Bundling”, “Synergy” and “Efficiency” which translate to “We will work you like a mule for hardly any pay,  until your soul pours out your nostrils and we can keep it in a jar in the office until you don’t recall you ever had one”.

They “forget” your six month review and hold off your first precious ten cent raise for months, they neglect to define your role so they can make anything “your job” on a whim and criticize you for not doing it. You get reamed out daily for not “Collecting (Re: Begging) enough cash Donations” which the company uses to a) look like a charitable organization and b) bestow as gift certificates that sell product at the regular horrifyingly marked up price. You eventually stop trying to get as many unsuspecting customers as possible to sign up for the loyalty program that tracks their purchases and encourages more thoughtless buying through annoying daily emails.

You stop believing that this was once a good place, where people could enjoy life and find a book to escape into, and you only see it as a place where someone can come up to beg you for a discount on a softcover you saw them deliberately rip the cover off of, they throw a fit and get the deal from a manager anyway, who made you look like a fool in front of them for talking a stand. You start to dread the day they might eventually ask you to sneak up behind unsuspecting customers and steal their wallets or car keys. You decide you need out. You need freed from the corporate mentality where you are just a number, a peon, 100% replaceable, which you are. Once your enthusiasm for useless products is gone, once you’ve been thoroughly disillusioned and realize it’s not a bookstore anymore and just a sanctuary for brightly coloured, cheap, useless crap, they the pick a fresh crop of smiling faces, ready and eager to have their soul extracted in the name of “A love for books”. They didn’t care if you knew a thing about books, as long as you could sell them. No measly 30% discount is worth that kind of mental torture. And you’re not even mentioning the Special HELL that is Christmas at the Mall.

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Say you’re around twenty five years old, and after the spirit crushing experience with corporate Canada, you are offered a part time gig at a local independent cafe’ downtown. Hallelujah! You say! Finally the quaint and cozy job serving people hot cups of caffienated love day in and out. Happy people who are glad you drew a face in their latte’, couldn’t be happier you added an extra carrot on their sandwich plate, working for a person who’s face you see on a daily basis. That’s the life! And by god! Tips! You’ll make extra money! What a concept… It all looks like it will work out just fine!

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You are trained on a gruelling schedule requiring memorizing more than you needed to in your four year University Science program. The assistant manager is an anal French perfectionist who is surprisingly terrible with customers, harbouring a strangely successful hate-hate relationship with them. You only see the Owner when you’re getting reprimanded for putting the napkins in upside-down and opening your mouth and talking to someone who wasn’t a customer, or when getting paid in cash which feels more like a drug deal then an exchange of services for fair wages. The latter event seems to happen less and less often, getting pushed weeks behind because he neglects to show up while you’re working. Your hours are cut back to less than the legal shift length, or cancelled all together an hour or two before you’re supposed to start. You’re not paid for the last half hour of your night shift because you only get paid half an hour after close, but there is still more work that needs done and it better be done the next morning or there will be a big scary French Cafe’-Nazi on your ass.

You exhaust yourself daily trying to find things to do to look busy when it’s slow or they will send you home and you won’t make enough to justify the travel costs to work. Free coffee doesn’t pay the rent, and the latte’ you get per shift is starting to lose it’s lustre’.  Getting to work with espresso eventually doesn’t make up for all of the foul smelling tuna and egg salad sandwiches you have to make for the daily regulars who somehow manage to have less of a social life than you. Regulars that are not happy about the extra carrot on their plate, and violently complain when it is no longer there. You go home smelling like pickles, coffee and sweat and the tips you made didn’t pay for the bus ride home, which you waited 45 minutes for in minus thirty degree weather, on a dodgy city street at midnight. You stepped over a puddle of human blood to get here…is this what you really want?

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The fantastical idea of all of these different positions is in theory wonderful. All are appealing and have a way of attracting themselves to you by including something you love already, old books, new books, coffee. But now and forever these aspects of life will tainted by the experience of doing it for a living. Going for a hot drink at a local cafe’ will always come with a cringe and feeling of empathy towards the poor barista getting scolded for too much foam on a latte. A trip to the bookstore will be a horror or horrors, completely unenjoyable, watching mindless moneybags shop like toddlers throwing tantrums for things they really don’t need. And the used bookstore becomes a pit of old books no one wants anymore. A hole where the unwanted fall and rot for years collecting dust, and anything worth buying is lost on a shelf behind thousands of other volumes by no-name authors from the eighties.

I’m not saying you should stay away from being employed at these types of places, because everyone extracts what they want and need from each kind of situation. What I’m saying is try to avoid taking a job that has little merit other than it being something you enjoy doing in your free time. The niceties and pleasure you get from that activity will be changed forever, and if that job has no other merits, such as pay or pleasant people to work with, you may be in for a bumpy and uncomfortable ride.

Thanks for stopping by!

-Hailey Jane


The Coffee Break

Life, one of the worst things to try and talk about because everyone has their own opinion on the matter. Their own thoughts, their own feelings and their own experiences, which more often than not will be different than yours. Supposedly this is what makes it interesting.

My apologies, as I have been off the map a bit as of late due to a new endeavour that seems to be swallowing up all my time like a pelican at a fish farm. Ideally this is a good thing, because in the long run it ought to provide the means to obtain new and exciting material for all of you wonderful readers whom I love truly and deeply. But no one likes the short run.

One thing I want to express though, is that I desperately miss the time for inner reflection that I used to have in droves. I miss my coffee breaks. Sitting in a cafe with a hot drink, a pen and paper, and time.  Time to dig deep through my current thoughts into my memories and then deeper into my nature, finally to mix them all together to create something beautiful, entertaining and unique.

Each day I see this world as a shallower place than the prior, and know I could lift at least a few of these lost souls from their comfortable mundane corporate consumerist world, if only I took the time to share what I thought. I can feel the buds of their future regret forming, for not living life with a purpose past the next purchase and pay check. Individual history is dying before my eyes. What am I going to do about it?

What can you do about it?

I choose to write, what do you choose?

-Miss Hailey Jane


Richard Curtis Fan Fiction: Notting Hill and Back Again

Wandering the busy streets of London on an overcast yet warm spring day, a woman carrying a cloth bag of free used books looks up and smiles at the world. She was an interesting looking woman, but pretty nonetheless.  Her wide green eyes were captivating as well as wise and reflective, and her simple loose brown curls ensured her more striking features took the credit. She thought her head too big for her body and her arms too long, but she loved the way a patterned wrap dress fit across her flattened chest and floated down around her sharp hips. On this particular day she was wrapped in an off-white variant of the aforementioned dress type that tied at the neck, which had the daintiest green leafy embellishments along the hem.  It’s slight glint offset her gold sandals perfectly and she felt completely put together.

Years of the most enjoyable work and research left her more than comfortable at her current point in life, one might almost say she was well off. This fact did not matter to her so much as the fact that she absolutely loved every second of what she was paid to do. Because of this people were drawn to her magnetic personality, resulting in an even more successful career.

She was in London on what felt more like a vacation than work, promoting her latest book. It was a selection of mostly true short stories from her travels around the world, a guide book with an entertaining and occasionally dramatic twist thrown in for good measure. She was proud of this book, more so than any of her others, and she was thrilled that Travel Book Co. in London was putting her up to come in and do a meet and greet, slash book signing. It was a long way from her home in America, and she never imagined her works would reach so many people abroad, but she did have a rather terminal case of humility.

As she floated down the street, having just come from the event with her bag of complementary travel literature, she found herself in need of a hot drink to calm her slightly jostled nerves. It had been a surprisingly popular event, more so than she had anticipated. A line out the door and around the corner to come and meet her. She had met some very interesting and strange people, as well as a few local authors, whom she was honoured were interested in her work. The woman rolled the course of this morning’s events over in her head, while subconsciously searching for a Costa or Cafe Nero, otherwise, she was more or less completely oblivious to the rest of her surroundings.

And suddenly, like a cold brisk wave smashing against the boulders along the edge of the sea, she obliviously collided with a Demi-God. Their shoulders clashed and they both spun in the direction of the other, resulting in a fiercely locked gaze. At first glance she saw a tall, dark, high cheek-boned Adonis, and then, to her euphoric horror, she recognized him immediately. Memories of an early Disney film and the tune of “Once Upon a Dream” rang in her ears.

“Pardon me” He said, reaching out and gently touching her recently struck shoulder with his hand.

She could have died right there and then, being perfectly and completely satisfied with what life had presented her…but something deep inside her took hold of the situation, and what followed felt like a dream beyond her control.

“Uhm, Coffee…” was all that came out of her mouth.

He responded with a completely justified confused look. His proximity and long dark coat made her feel so much smaller than him. She was easily overwhelmed.

She closed her eyes and quickly shock her head to bring some sense back to her brain. “I could use some coffee, would you like to join me? There is a fantastic Cafe just around that corner I understand, my treat?”  It was a complete long shot, she knew that, but a part of her was determined to avoid regretting not taking the chance.

He looked her over, in a tactless manner but he was a man after all, all she could blame for that was nature. He pulled out his phone, thought for a moment while scrolling through what she assumed was his calendar, and then he looked up and laid a cheeky, confident grin all over her.

“Alright”

The Universe seemed to have decided to convince two complete strangers to go out on a limb, take a chance and make the leap. The rest was entirely in their hands. They walked side by side around the corner of the next street, she didn’t dare say anything from fear of fouling up the whole situation right off the bat and having him rum away faster than a chicken about to loose his head. She just wanted a cup of coffee in her hands and knew she would relax and come around.

They reached the door to the Cafe, and he held it open for her, she brushed past him, inhaling his intoxicating aroma that incidentally made her knees weaken. They stepped inside and she scraped up the remains of her confidence and turned to face him.

“What would you like?” She asked in a slightly too loud a voice. Damn those nerves again… “I’ll grab our drinks if you want to find a seat?” she followed up with, hopefully compensating for the embarrassing volume influx previously. He glanced up at the drinks board.

“I’d like a Irish Cream with sugar please.” Seemingly pleased at the selection.

“Mmm, good choice.” They parted and went about their prescribed tasks. She saw that he chose a seat for two by the window, which she thoroughly approved of, as she loved people watching, particularly in this wonderful city. This was quickly becoming her favourite place in the whole world, and that is saying quite a bit, as she had been just about everywhere one could think of because of her work.

She ordered the drinks, an Irish Cream with sugar for him, and Cappuccino for herself with a double shot of espresso. ‘That oughta keep me from a state of complete and utter panic’ she thought to herself. When they were ready, she carried them to the table, praying to any deity in the general vicinity, so she didn’t trip and spill them everywhere. The drinks made it to the table safely, and she sat down across from him and tried to make herself comfortable. ‘That is one damn good looking man’ she thought loudly as she looked at him, hoping no one could hear her. He was looking down at his coffee, stirring the dark liquid in the glass mug with a shiny spoon, making rhythmic clinking noises as the spoon went around. She tried desperately not to get too turned on, but at this point it was nearly impossible. she had been squeezing her legs together essentially since the moment they met. Couldn’t be helped.

“So, do you have a name my dear, or are you just a pretty face?”

She did her best not to turn to mush right there, trying to keep her composure, remembering the eternal words of Bridget Jones, ‘ “I will not get upset [flustered] over men, but instead be poised and cool icequeen.” Yes, that mantra would do just nicely. I’m a professional woman for fuck sakes…’ She realized she had been thinking too long and quickly snapped out of it and tried to think of something clever to say.

“Nope, just a face… made for getting a passport rather difficult though”… ‘Oh God, please laugh, please think it was at least slightly humorous’

“I have the exact same problem, yeah.” he laughed, then took a sip of his coffee that was too hot, and tried to look like he wasn’t flinching in pain.

“I’m sorry, I hope you didn’t have to be anywhere at the moment, I’m sure you’re up to your ears in press related whatnots and that sort of thing.”

“Naaa, sort of a day off. Seems you know who I am though. Doesn’t seem fair really, as I don’t know anything about you, not even a name. What is it you do for fun Miss Mystery Woman?”

“I am a writer actually…”

“I said for fun..”

“Oh I don’t think you can get much more fun than flying around the world, causing shenanigans and getting paid to write about them.”

“I guess so” he paused “So are your and shenanigans worth reading about?”

“No it’s all Crap,” she grinned widely wile narrowing her focus, waiting for an amusing reaction. When she got one she finished with    “Naw, It’s funny, amusing and all that but people love reading about misadventures, and if I can throw in a bit of helpful tourist hints and educate my audience even a little bit the end product is worth it.”

“Sounds fantastic, so what are you doing in London, you’ve got that sound about you that hints you’re from America”

“I am, actually, I’ve just come from a book signing at that Travel Book Shop in Notting Hill….you know, the one from the movie, actually come to think of it, it’s a wonder I didn’t spill orange juice all over you.”

“What?” He looked rather concerned, thus clearly hasn’t seen said film…

“I wouldn’t worry, you’re safe. Anyhow, they’re putting me up to do a bit of customer relations stuff, so to speak. I’m here till Tuesday then I fly to New Zealand to do another event.” She took a long sip of her Cappuccino, trying not to get foam all over her face.

“Well it’s terribly unfortunate that you’ve got to leave again so soon.”

“I know, this is just so surreal”  ‘Can’t believe I just said that’ she thought. ‘Thank goodness he won’t catch the quote, whatever you do, don’t say “surreal, but nice” and offer him honeyed apricots’.  She grinned to herself, yet felt slightly ashamed. ”

“At least tell me your name so I can find your book.”

“Here.” She reached into her bag and pulled out the copy she had on hand. She grabbed her pen and scribbled something on the inside cover for him and handed it over. “It’s all yours, with any luck it’ll be worth a fortune when I’m dead, 1st edition and all.” She rolled her eyes sarcastically and giggled. He grinned through his coffee mug, tilting it up finishing the last few drops.

“I’m very glad I bumped into you, Miss…” He paused and looked down to read the cover. “O’Brian, but I’ve got to get going, I’m so sorry. Thank you for the coffee, I’ll have to remember this place.”

“Yes, it is very lovely. As are you, and I’m so happy I got to meet you.” They got up and collected their things. A sharp feeling of sadness washed over her, thinking she may never see him…well…in person, ever again. But she will be eternally grateful for this opportunity. They cleared the doors of the shop, and stood on the sidewalk outside for a moment, facing each other.  Something was drawing her to him, and he couldn’t help but reach out and put his hand on the waist of her white dress. She stepped closer to him, so he could feel her breathing. With his other hand he clasped hers and pulled it to his lips for a sensual yet innocent kiss.  He held it to his lips for a moment longer, looking into her eyes, feeling like he had missed something important. He raised an eyebrow and lowered then released her hand. She stepped away from him, her heart beating  as if it were ready to explode.

“Goodbye” She said with unimaginable confidence, and turned to leave up the street.

“Wait!” He called after her. “How do I know this isn’t your pen name?”

She turned her head in his direction and smiled a cheeky and devious smile.

“It’s just a chance you’re going to have to take.”

As he walked away he opened the cover of the book to read what she had wrote, assuming it would just be a signature. As he did so he stopped mid-stride, turned in her direction, his mouth agape. his heart both floating and sinking simultaneously. She was gone. Lost in the sea of people on the street. He needed to find her again, no matter what it took.

‘Well, if anything this little adventure has made it’s way into my next volume, that’s for sure.’ she thought to herself as she skipped down the London streets, beaming with perfect happiness.”

The End

Miss Hailey Jane


A Moment in Time

On a day in the past, in some far away place, I sat down and recorded one of the strangest feeling’s I’ve ever experienced. Here is what came of it. 

~Well, this is it. My luggage is checked, my croissant is eaten and my coffee, drunk. I’m getting on that plane and I feel absolutely terrible about it. To add insult to injury my luggage was overweight by four kilos as well. I feel as if this moment, here and now, outside this coffee shop, is one I’m going to be  thinking about for the rest of my life.

If the Universe had’ve wanted me to stay then something life altering would have happened, wouldn’t it? Thus the reality of the impending life hangover is slowly being realized. I’m like the grasshopper that sang all summer, there is music to be faced and who the hell knows how it’s going to turn out. I promise you it’s not going to be pretty.

The goodbye-texts have all been sent, you feel empty and alone, and when you heard that strong Canadian accent at the check-in desk it shocked you, it upset you, you don’t want to go home.

The third time’s the charm they say…Ughh this feeling is awful and it’s only going to get worse. It’s an intense sick feeling, my stomach turns, my head throbs, the sadness has penetrated my every extremity. And the worst part of the truth of the matter is that it’s going to be me walking myself onto that plane, it’s all my doing…all me…only me.  GUILT. I’m the only person letting myself feel so much like shit. Forever the eternal masochist.

But you see, if you’re miserable your whole life you’ve got nothing to compare it to so you essentially become exceedingly content. But when you punctuate your life with intense bursts of extreme happiness it makes the majority of the rest of it seem meaningless and excruciatingly terrible. Once you’ve been blinded by the light you can no longer live in the dark.

These happenings reveal to me who I really am, what I really want. Here I am real, elsewhere is all a mirage that I’m forever blundering about in, waiting to see the desert hiding underneath it.

Phooey, I should really go through security sometime soon, I don’t really want to, have no urge to get up out of my seat whatsoever at the moment, I feel drawn to this here (rather uncomfortable) seat, as if there is a heavy weight pulling me towards the centre of the earth from the pit of my stomach. But I figure it’s best to do it, and do it like a bandaid…quick and painless, except it’s going to be eight and a half hours of pulling at tiny hairs before it’s all over, so maybe not so painless after all.

Man Up!….GOOOOO!….DO IT!

Maybe I’ll just buy a book first… I like to pretend I have willpower sometimes….~

-Miss Hailey Jane


The Man in the Silver Challenger

It started a few months back when the weather began to improve and the mud and grit of winter disappeared from the streets. Since moving to the big city a year ago, this was her first real spring in the heart of the bustling metropolis. She watched from her balcony as the snow and ice melted, and the people began to come out of wherever they chose to hide throughout the winter months. She watched as ladies in short shorts on rollerblades skated along the riverside, and she wondered if they had a real destination or of they were just skating for the purpose of skating, which in her mind seemed irritatingly circular and irrelevant. And then she figured it was an attention seeking gesture, she hated gratuitous attention seeking gestures, it had to be, no one bothers buying shorts that short without wanting to be stared at.  But judging by the general male reaction to the undulating flesh, there is shallow success to be had.

She watched more and more as the sun began to make the few city plants grow again. She missed the green of the country and found the pathetic attempt at bringing nature to the streets of downtown dismal and ultimately ironic. They had destroyed all the original environment to put all this steel and concrete here, bringing small bits back seemed sort of mean. She saw more and more people taking tiny pets out for walks, riding strange low-riding bicycles and even started to hear the ringing of the ice cream truck. It’s a weird wild and wonderful world she thought. But she didn’t see herself in it; she was watching it like a film, waiting for the plot to become slightly more interesting. And then one unsuspecting day, it did.

Spending afternoons sipping tea or coffee and reading at the cafe downtown was one of her favourite pastimes. It had dark brick walls on which hung beautiful local art, and relaxing music played over the speakers that she found she loved more and more each time she visited. The cafe also had a big open patio that allowed her to look out onto the bustling street through a couple of lonely trees planted in the sidewalk. The dark lighting inside the cafe made the bright strip seem ever more like a screen where the world was being projected for her. She watched the crazy locals walking by, mothers and children, invalids on their motorized scooters, and on Friday afternoons everybody seemed to want to walk up and down the main drag.  Soon she began to notice the cars going by, or more so the people in them, as with the warmer weather people drove happily with the windows down with their music cranked for the world to hear. She always wondered why people did this, as if whatever it was they were listening to was so important and the best thing ever composed, that it took societal precedence over what the people on the street were trying to think about.  She hated having her thoughts interrupted by some young thing with the latest spleen shaking, bass loaded, autotuned disaster they have the nerve to call music, booming out of their car. She wished just once someone would be listening to Wagner or Tchaikovsky, but that was never the case.

One early weekday afternoon as she was reading a book not worth mentioning, and a Silver Challenger with black racing stripes cruised past the cafe, windows down and with the music at what couldn’t possibly have been an audibly pleasing decibel. She mentally “guffawed” at the happening and made note of strange people like that for future conversation. She went back to her book and vanilla nut coffee and that should have been the end of it. Not even several minutes later, she could hear the booming bass of another attention seeking vehicle approaching from the same direction. She paused from her book to mentally curse the driver for interrupting her novel, and as it rolled past and stopped at the light she saw that it was the very same Silver Challenger, with black racing strips. This time round she had a change to see the driver, fully expecting it to be some arrogant self possessed twenty-something looking to pick-up some unsuspecting pretty young thing with the IQ of a potato, but no, this was not the case. Turns out, he appeared to be a middle-to-late aged frumpy man. Now, this is not the first time she has seen a middle-aged man in a mid-life-crisis car, this was not a shock to her nor would it be to anyone, but the music that was coming from inside it was the appalling gut wrenching rap music popular among boys with pants around their knees and hats not quite on right. This man had both the mid life crisis car as well as the tunes. She made her mental note more detailed and then decided he was perhaps just lost and had to circle around twice to get his bearings.

Throughout the next thirty minutes she remained in the cafe, the Silver Challenger circled around another ten times. At which point she had had enough of trying to read and then getting interrupted every three minutes by the booming monstrosity, packed up and left. On the street he passed again, not noticing her, but she got a better look at him from behind her dark sunglasses. He wasn’t anything special to look at, just your average dark haired, medium build,regular height man. His repeated presence bothered her, but she wouldn’t let it ruin her day. She scurried home to the safety of her apartment and tried not to dwell on it too much and get on with her day. “People drive around all the time” she said to herself. “It’s not that abnormal” she repeated. She tried all evening but she could not satisfy her curiosity about the strange socially obscure happening. “Does he not have a job? a family?…Why is he driving around town in the middle of the day?….He’s not going to pick up someone at that hour…better to wait until midnight when they’re all hammered…maybe he’s afraid of the police catching him trying to scam girls at night…maybe he’s a sexual predator…maybe he’s looking for his next victim….”.  She could not quiet her mind, and it kept running all over the place trying to figure out why this one person in such a populated city was causing her so much distress. Maybe she was paranoid, but it didn’t fit with the way people work, and the recognized pattern of how life is supposed to go. Eventually she got to bed and through the miracle of sleep she forgot about it and went on with her days.

Three planetary rotations later, once she had completely got over the Silver Challenger incident and pushed everything to the back of her mind…it happened again. She was on her way to the drug store in the morning and there it was, windows down, music playing same blank look on the drivers face, watching the road. She dove into the closest public establishment she could find and hid in the shop for a while, thoughts running through her head about what he could possibly be doing out again, was this just a coincidence and had he not been out since the last time…or was this a regular thing. Over the next week, every single time she went outside it seemed, her was there…in that Silver Challenger, just driving around…and around and around, never stopping to get out of the car. WHYYYY!?!?! It was starting to drive her crazy. Was this what he wants? To drive poor curious girls absolutely crazy by repeatedly performing a perfectly mundane task obnoxiously with absolutely no purpose! Well it was working!

Over the next month, she kept seeing him, morning, afternoon, evening, and she was sure he was out at night, yet she was too scared to wander the streets at night alone.  She seriously debated asking shop owners who worked on the strip if they knew what was going on, but at the risk of sounding absolutely insane and stalker-y she decided against it. She would think about the reality of the situation…he likely had no idea who she was if he drove around so often…but she, on the other hand, began to panic the second she saw a Silver Challenger anywhere. How is it that you can recognize someone so easily, see them on such a regular basis, yet they have absolutely no idea who you are. Tis the nature of modern society she supposes.

The remainder of her summer was spent on constant lookout for the offensive vehicle, wondering if and when she would see it next.  When she looked left and right to cross the street she was secretly checking to make sure that the Silver Challenger was not there. She could not wait for the cool winter weather to return and force all the leisure vehicles back under their protective winter covers, freeing her fragile mind for a time.

And so for the rest of her life this unsolved mystery would be present in the corners of her mind, every time she saw a Silver Challenger her stomach would jump to her throat, and it would anger her, with thoughts of “WHY!?” because this mystery is never solved. He never leant his head out the window to explain why he was there, never even hollered a hello, just drove around like it was the last day of his life and couldn’t think of anything better to do. This is why life is such a mystery. Because things like this don’t get solved. Because people no longer talk to each other to communicate, just use confusing gestures, accessories and actions to paint a picture of themselves for society to see. He wanted to be seen, he wanted to be noticed, in the flashy car with the loud music, but WHY!  He never stopped to talk to anyone, was never on the phone, just alone with his loud and aggressive musical anachronism. This is the future of society, and through the wonders of societal evolution we all will be left wondering about everyone else, trying to communicate without speaking real words, and most people won’t even notice.

The End

-Miss Hailey Jane