Sunday was designated as a “homework day” but really, everyday is a homework day. Especially when you have to stand up in front of the department chair and other intimidating faculty and orally defend your thesis at the end of the term… it’s a good motivator to get things done. Fear, anxiety, and stress are the healthiest ways to go from “to do” list to “DONE AND DEAD” list. It is better to be feared than loved, after all. I don’t know how that applies to anything I just said but it felt right. That Machiavelli, what a guy.
But I digress.
I am a huge fan of going to coffee shops to do homework during the weekend because libraries stress me out. It’s hard to focus when there are so many books leering at you, like they own the place. Anyway, getting out of the library means I can explore Philadelphia and do things like rub Benjamin Franklin’s belly for good luck. Or run around pretending to be Paul Revere and screaming, “THE VEGANS ARE COMING!! THE VEGANS ARE COMING!!”
This weekend, my friends and I found a coffee shop that met our standards for homework-doing. It was edgy and cool and I obviously didn’t belong.
Unfortunately, it was also a suffocating 1000-degrees Fahrenheit and crowded. A stormy sea of Apple products, beards, and glasses met our arrival. We were the conquistadors of this coffee-drenched land and scavenged for seats, listened to the stories from the indigenous people, and claimed the end of a long bar-table for the Spanish Empire. It was uncomfortable and awkward but you know what, I was at a cool coffee shop and I had a chair – things were looking good in spite of being forced into an advanced yoga position to get into my chair.
After doing some table-vulturing, (where you stalk people who look as if they are leaving their coveted tables with a wider work-space than the three inches we were given) we landed a table. It was a triumph. Not just for us, but for Spain. My friend enthusiastically slid into her seat, an antique wooden bench, and then started making loud noises indicating discomfort. That vintage bench, it turned out, was not conducive to human butts. It splintered off straight into said-friend’s backside. I had to force her into the bathroom and perform minor surgery by pulling out wood chips embedded in various areas of her body. It was a true bonding experience.
Finally, after all of the tree remnants were removed from my friend’s epidermis, we settled into our work. Of course, this was not the end of our trials and tribulations.
The coffee shop was loud and I was already having trouble concentrating but on top of that pre-existing loudness, a folk band started playing. This was randomly punctuated by the sound of coffee grinding and the existential sighs of so many failed writers and actresses. I enjoy a good folk tune and I’m especially partial to the sound of acoustic guitar so that part was nice. But then, there was an hour-long banjo solo. And the banjo player was really into his music which I can appreciate but not when I’m analyzing literature. Homer, Hesse, and Hemingway don’t go with Hoedown.
You can only get hit by the elbow of an over-enthusiastic, bearded fiddler so many times before you give up and call it a day. And that’s just what we did.
And then we immediately went to another coffee shop across the street decidedly banjo free. Success.