Write For Ten – Coffee

June 20, 2012 in Guest Post

This engaging piece by Donna B. McNicol comes from the following prompt: 

"Write for 10 minutes about coffee, e.g., your favorite cup, your favorite cafe, the experience of it in the morning, etc."

I grew up drinking coffee, well not really coffee but coffee milk. A summer treat for us kids was my father adding a couple of spoonfuls of his highly sugared coffee to our milk. I've tried to recreate this as an adult but it never meets the memory.
I don't remember when I started drinking coffee, I think it was in my early twenties. I used cream and sugar…well, milk and sugar. I don't remember really liking it but it made me feel more adult. I didn't drink a lot of it!
My next coffee memory was when I needed to change my eating habits to help balance my blood sugar – I was diagnosed with hypoglycemia. I stopped the milk and sugar and started drinking it black. I quickly discovered that GOOD coffee was wonderful when black. BAD coffee really needed to be dosed up. REALLY GOOD coffee with half & half and sugar turned out to be a wonderful dessert. To this day I still follow that rule.
In my 40's I discovered General Foods International Cafe Vienna….what a treat. I drank that off & on for 10 years or so, then stopped. I now only have it once every couple of weeks. I used to drink it more often but last Christmas we gifted ourselves with a Keurig coffeemaker. Oh my!! I am so spoiled now….dark coffees are the favored blends, especially the Sumatra ones. We especially love getting dark decaf blends…good tasting coffee in the evenings.
Over the years I have interspersed my coffee drinking with tea drinking. When I'm not drinking coffee, I'm drinking a wonderful blend of black and green teas by Stash. 
I've tried a couple of the fancy coffees but find I don't really like them. I do like something else though….
Two strong coffee memories….strong in the memory and strong in the taste. I was in my mid-late 30's and working for Burroughs Corporation out of Miami, FL. My clients were Cuban and I was spending almost every day at their office. There was a wonderful little Cuban restaurant next door. One afternoon they brought back several cups of Cuban coffee….one was for me, highly dosed with sugar. It was delicious! Very strong, single swig (think those little white cups used for condiments). Definitely a caffeine jolt but in a good way.

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Because I Cannot NOT Write

June 20, 2012 in Essay

In the fourth grade, I wrote an essay about how my favorite place on earth was my grandfather's horse ranch with its sprawling groves of trees and winding streams. I remember feeling particularly brilliant as I wrote that essay, inventing this entirely fictional haven on wide-lined sheets of soft brown paper. My mother remembers being particularly horrified when the essay came home with a big fat A on it, as she was unaware that I had become such a boldfaced liar.

At the time, I may not have had the words to explain why my favorite place on earth was the spot directly in front of the old swamp cooler in my father's converted garage/rec room. God I loved the earthy moldy smell of that thing and the cool, wet air which bathed my face. I'd stand there, toes curled on the edges of a worn patch in the indoor-outdoor carpet while my sisters smacked balls with satisfying thuds into the pockets of the pool table behind me. It was my personal heaven. But a musty old swamp cooler is a strange thing for a fourth-grade girl to gush over and I was already strange enough, so even if I could have articulated that joy, I suppose it was easier to invent some glorious ranch instead.


I usually point to the “Grandfather's Horse Ranch” essay as the moment I decided to become a writer. but deep down, I don't believe that any of us “decide” to become writers. We either are or we aren't and the only decision-making we get to do is as follows:


  • Choose to admit that we are of the writerly persuasion
  • Commit the act of writing

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