Latest Posts

Random Love

I still remember those days when I went to my aunt’s for holidays. How can I forget those days? Those days…those moments are the most precious and memorable parts of my life.

I went there for studies but never realized when I forgot about my goal of studies and got stuck in the path of love. It was new place for me, new people; new things came into my life; it seemed that I was standing in a totally different phase of life. I never spent a single day without my mum but now I was staying without her.

Deepika became my friend in my class and in few days we became best friends, we started to share our secrets with each other, whenever we both had any problem we used to share with each other and find a solution every time together. One day she told me that she had a crush on a boy from last year but she never got the courage to tell him about her feelings that I liked him. It was shocking when I came to know that the boy was living in the house just across the street of hers. We were sitting on the side of the lake and thinking what we can do. After that we decided that I will tell his crush that my friend has feelings for him, but later it all went wrong.

“What is his name Deepika?” I said loudly.

“Gautama….Gautama Sharma,” she said.

“Okay, now I am going, I am getting late. And don’t worry I will bring a good news for you later today,” I smiled and waved my hand.

I got his address and went to Shaba’s house. I rang the doorbell and an old lady came outside. “Hello……. Who is this?” She said.

“Hi! Can I meet with Shaba? I am his friend from college”.

“Oh… Sure, he is sleeping, you can wait in lobby and I will let him know that you are here to meet him”.

“Thank you,” I smiled.

“While I am gone, would you like something to drink, water, juice or tea,” Shaba’s mom asked.

“No thank you, I’m good,” I replied.

I was waiting in the lobby for Shaba; it was a gorgeous house with awesome choice of colours. It felt really peaceful just by sitting there. The room was furnished with antique furniture; different kind of pictures hung on the walls. Shaba came.  We shook hands and sat together.

“I didn’t recognise you.”

“Oh …I know you don’t know me; actually, I’m Deepika’s friend. She lived just across the street from your house.”

“Ohhhh…. Okay.”

“I just came here to tell you something very important. It is about Deepika. She has some feelings for you from last year but, she didn’t know how to tell you about it as she is a very shy girl. She told me the main reason for her to come to college every day is just to have a glance of you. She doesn’t feel good if she did not see you a single day.”

He was surprised that time and just looked toward my face to hear what I was saying. I was little bit nervous; even I was praying to God, “Please save me; please don’t make him yell at me.”

“Ok… I will think about this. Before you leave can I know your name please?”

“Yeah sure… my name is Joy.”

“Nice to meet you, Joy. See you soon.”

After few days me and Deepika were together going for classes and we saw Shaba on the way. I thought he was just going to work as he was well dressed. He came toward Deepika and they both started to talk; I saw Deepika was feeling shy as her body was shivering and, I could tell that she was really nervous as she kept on squishing my hand really hard. They both exchange their numbers. Deepika was very happy; it was difficult for her to control her happiness; she was dancing on the road. It seemed like she didn’t care about the world; she didn’t care about anyone; only thing she remembered was her talking with her crush. We were done with our class and it was getting darker now. When we got home, Deepika got his call and she went outside to talk with Shaba. I was watching a movie. After half an hour, she came back in the room and I noticed her face was a little upset. So, I wondered, what’s going on in her mind, what he might have said to her. I asked her a few times but she didn’t utter a single word and started to cry. She was crying continuously and said, he doesn’t like me, he likes you instead and the only reason he exchanged numbers was to talk to you. I was completely shocked.

Time went by, Deepika and I were really upset, but she told me that I can talk with Shaba because he is such a nice person. “You should move your relationship with him,” she said, “it’s hard to find a boy likes him, he is a well settled person. He will love you, he approached you himself, Joy. Take your time and think about him. Don’t worry about me. I am fine. There would be someone else for me who will love me.” Then, we went to bed. Next day I kept on thinking about what Deepika said, and putting a thought on it I finallymadea decision to meet Shaba.

I called him and told that I wanted to meet him. We decided a place for us to meet. He was well dressed; he wore a white shirt with black pants and a tie. He was looking superb. We sat together in the café and had some coffee, we almost spent two hours in the café and I didn’t realize that it was already dark. As the time passed, we become friends, then best friends, and then we started spending most of our time in talking with each other on phone. It was the first time that I fell in love with someone. I was feeling special; it never happened with me before, I never experienced these kinds of feelings for anyone else. I wanted to feel those moments and wanted to make those memories permanent, for lifetime.

Shaba and I started dating each other. I was overjoyed. This was something totally different from the usual happening in my life. Shaba had a charming personality, which attracted me toward him. We spent almost every moment of every day with each other, even in the nights we used to talk on the phone all the time. We liked each other’s company. Day by day I was falling more in love with Shaba. I was quite happy. I felt blessed. He did everything for me: if I needed him anytime, he was always there to support me. Shaba was so good to me, always showering me with affection, pampering me, bring gifts for me. He loved everything about me, the way I talk, dressed, even my laughed. I seemed to connect with him on so many different levels. Once, he drove ninety miles to drop me at my parent’s house, because my grandfather was sick for a few days and he wanted to meet me. That day I realised I had fallen in love with him and no one else would love me as much as he does.

Almost three months passed and it was time for me to head back to my town. I was doing the studies of nursing in my home town. We both were really upset because it was the first time when we were separated from each other and had no clue when we will meet again. He didn’t come to see me off or to even say a goodbye at the time I was about to leave. That whole day he spent inside the room and didn’t eat anything. I did call him a number of times but he didn’t answered or returned any of my calls. I was little bit worried but I thought I should go, it was not easy for me either but I have to go.

In the evening I reached home. I was feeling alone and it felt like I wanted to go back. It seemed like I left a part of my body somewhere. My parents were very happy after all, they were seeing me after such a long time. Everyone in the family was asking about the experience in new city, my friends came at home to meet me. At night when I was about to go to bed, I called Shaba but he was still very disturb. I tried to change his mood, along with the time he got better and we both started to survive without each other.

As the time passed, I got busy with my college schedule so much that I hardly had any time to talk with Shaba. Most of the time, I talked with him at night. My parents were really conservative; they never allowed me to go outside with friends at late night. It was fifteen days now that we are apart from each other; it was the longest time I spent separated from Shaba since I met him. Shaba wanted to meet me but I was helpless as it was impossible for me to leave the town. After some time, Shaba also got busy in his work life, he was a model and he started to spend most of the time on work. Whenever I did call him, every time his assistant used to pick up the phone and said the same thing every time, “Shaba is busy.”

Here my parents started to talk about my marriage but I didn’t want to marry with anyone else except Shaba. On the other hand I didn’t even have the courage to tell my parents that I am in a relationship with someone because they will never understand that I am in love with someone, although they will say that how dare you to think about this. So I was truly scared. I kept on calling Shaba and one day he finally attended my call.

“Shaba? You finally got my call. I want to say something”.

“How are you.Joy? I am sorry; I was really busy in my work. That’s why I didn’t get time to call you back. But finally I heard your voice after such a long time”.

“Oh yeah… do you know Shaba? I am really worried my parents are looking for a boy for me. They want to fix my marriage as soon as possible. I don’t want to marry with anyone else. Please… please talk with your parents and come at my home to talk with my parents please.”

“Yeah baby… doesn’t be anxious I will do something.”

We did talk for ten minutes and while I was on phone, my mom came into my room and I got nervous. “Did mom listen to our conversation while I was on call? No…no it couldn’t be,” I thought. She seemed very happy, my mom told that they have already chosen a partner for me who is the son of my father’s friend, he is from Australia. I could see it from my mother’s eyes how happy she was. She told me that I will be very happy after marrying their choice, I will live a life that she never had, and she said all this to me very quietly. I was wondering why nobody from my family asked me a single time that is there anyone in my life or do I like someone? They just fixed the marriage because they think that the boy they chose would be perfect for me. I have already given my soul to Shaba so I can’t move on with anyone else even if he was wealthier than Shaba.

I still loved him. I felt isolated. I wish that time could be change and my parents would understand that I love Sabah more than anyone; I want to spend my life with Shaba, he is the only person who could give me all the happiness I wanted. He is the person who I felt the connection with; he was my real soul mate.

No one listened to me; they didn’t even care to ask me once whether I am happy from the decision of my marriage. My parents started preparations for the rituals needed to be done before marriage. I was devastated by the idea of getting married to someone else and being separated from Shaba. I kept on calling Shaba but he never answered my call after I told him about the marriage. I thought he ditched me. I cried my heart out. I knew now there is nothing that can bring me and Shaba together but still with the hope to listen his voice one last time I kept on calling him in every chance I get. One fine day someone picked up the call. I was so happy I started shouting, crying, yelling at him for not picking up any of my calls but then suddenly I heard a voice. It was not of Shaba. I asked who it was. Then I came to know that it was Shaba’s dad. He told me to never call him again. I was dumbstruck by listening to his dad on phone. Then I thought of calling Deepika to ask what might have happened there. She didn’t pick up any of my calls, either. The next day I got a call back from Deepika and I told her the whole story what happened until now and asked if she knows anything about the reason of Shaba’s father to pick up the call. Then she told me that the day I called Shaba and asked him to talk with his parents to come and talk with hers, he opened the secrecy of their relationship to his parents with the idea of getting any help. But it turned out that his parents were also too orthodox. His dad shouted at him for doing such a low level thing and fixed his marriage with some other girl without even asking him. That night I cried again but it was for the last time.

I was both sad and happy, sad because I would never see the love of my life again and happy that the guy I loved didn’t betray me. He tried until the very last moment to be with me. Then I decided that from now on, I would not shed any more tears. I would continue to live the life my parents wanted for me without any argument and I will keep Shaba in my heart as the most loveable moment and a special dream of my life. Not every love story has a happy ending.

How to Read Poetry

I don’t consider myself to be poetically minded or smart enough for poetry. I wish I could entrance an audience with beautiful imagery and captivating metaphors, but the truth is I’m not very good at reading poetry, and even worse at writing it. Perhaps this is why I’m so fascinated by the genre. To me, it remains a mystery, out of reach of my immediate understanding and well outside my comfort zone.  Although I may not be able to write it, that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate poetry and learn how to read it.

I’ve talked to many people who seem to share the sentiment that reading poetry makes them feel dumb as if poems hold hidden secrets only the Robert Frosts and Sylvia Plaths of the world can understand. Surely this has more to do with the reader than the poet. I may not be a poetic expert, but still know the aim of poetry isn’t to flaunt “superior intelligence” or bolster the poet’s ego. Such perceptions can’t be blamed on the poem or the author’s writing, but how the reader is approaching it.

In his poem Introduction to Poetry, Billy Collins brings this idea up as he writes about the many ways a person can interact with poetry. Collins focuses on exploring a poem rather than interrogating it for meaning. What I have taken from Collins’ work is that poetry is more than a poet’s monologue. It’s a way to open a dialogue between the poet and the readers.

 As with any conversation, every participant interprets the interaction differently.  Poems allow for an individual’s unique experience to inform on the writing. Reading poetry doesn’t require being “smart enough” or even “poetically minded.”  Perhaps then, there is no secret to reading poetry. Maybe what I, and many others, have been struggling with is not the question of how to read poetry, but how to approach it.

Click this link, to check out Billy Collins’ poem for yourself!

Econoline

’72 cargo van. V8
Captain’s chair. 8 Track
No power steering
$3000 obo

She walked up
Kicked my tires
Revved my engine
Thrust out her chin and offered $2600

Typical.
Bluster and bravado.
A woman out of her element.

But off we went:
Her cranking my wheel with obvious exertion
Me shuddering up the North Shore hills
First stop: Mt. Seymour Parkway
Stop
Engage E-brake
Fixate on the panorama of Vancouver
spread over the Fraser River delta
Tears on my steering wheel
Her father built this road
taught her to flag traffic
led her to believe men stuck around.

On down into the city, to an
odd shop: we’re camperizing!
She wants
cupboards, sink, stove,
table and chairs, and,
“…please if you don’t mind, raise the roof so
my kids can have top shelf bunk beds”
She trades her public relations talent for the re-do

Not so typical.
Dogged and adept.
A woman with a crackerjack family plan.

A new life takes shape
Only my ochre colour remains.
Weekends, I’m rolling
down the road:
one woman driver, mid-thirties
two kids, nine and eleven bouncing
on my newly installed bench seat
Kris Kristofferson wailing about
Sleeping city sidewalks
Cedar forests zooming past.

On Stave Lake’s shores, I fill up
with smoke: wet wood never burns well
They fry their sausages inside instead
chattering, carping, laughing.

That time at Alice Lake they
stayed inside the whole trip
Outside, clouds crashed
filled the narrow mountain valley
They learned to play cribbage that night
Thunder thrashing, treacherously
tumbling all night long
My roof a thin barrier to the elements.

Sun Valley was the longest trip
John Denver blaring…
Rocky Mountain High
I’ve seen it rainin’ fire in the sky
Ballads indelibly imprinted like
Highway 55’s twists through the Snake River Canyon
and every small town roadside gas pump:
White Bird, Cottonwood, New Meadows, Lake Fork
She drove on as the
road gyrated in effort to stay
true to its river lover

Brake

Crank

Accelerate

Brake

Crank

Accelerate

Every curve written in
the tiny muscles of her bursa and biceps
I fill up with Absorbine Junior fumes

Atypical.
Selfless and sublime.
A woman determined to build a normal life. Far surpassed.

Sometimes
At home
In the driveway, the kids
Snuck in and
Jammed my gears with their imp fists
Cranked up the 8 track and
Wearied my thin reserves.

She didn’t know they
did so only
to hold closer
the fleeting sense
of wheels rolling
on wet summer
pavement
sun setting
Carly Simon
crooning
as they passed full
campsite after full
campsite, never
really
wanting to end
what they became,
together, inside my walls
on those roads
driving into the night
fading light.
Econoline family.

HE ONLY WANTS ATTENTION

out of options, now, aren’t you?
you snarled supernova, you ravaged firework.
you’ve not known much but stifling.
trying to hold in your gored pomegranate chest
which tries selflessly to split open
onto your bedspread. you
can’t stop pieces from dripping out of the cracks
between your fingers.
you wonder if the juice still tastes as sweet
when it’s spilt across white cotton sheets
and staining everything you touch red.

red under your fingernails, red around
your eyes, red skies
in the morning. you feel hollow
and gutted like an abandoned house.
stripped for your wiring.
by sunrise, you have no precious metals
left to give –

only disorder.

today, you awake to debris spilled over
everything you called your home.
today, the bottles under your bed
ache for your touch again.
you ache, too,
but all over,
and you ate enough painkillers this morning
to dull the mistakes of yesterday.
but. it still wasn’t enough.

because today, the symphony was
screaming in your mind.
the cacophony of loathing and exhaustion
pounding in your forehead,
drowning out everything but
a vicious and animal need
to destroy everything around you.
you always were good at taking things
personally.

you have hands and lungs and you hate them.
you have an agonized heart and you hate it.

no, no –
you have no heart and
there’s something close to love
but with sharper teeth
reaching towards
whatever’s left behind.

and each day’s blank slate
hasn’t been very well
wiped clean.
there’s still echoes that stay caked in your
life’s irregularities. and,
despite knowing better,
you can’t help but scrawl
the same letters. the same
violent reminders.
day after fucking day.

so: your mind knows what you need to do.
a hard flick of your lighter,
spark flame hot metal hotter veins,
a sort of icarus,
caught by the sun at his fingertips.

go.
hot metal meet cold thighs.
a million words for pain pain pain and
burning, and melting, and scarring,
and you deserve it, right?
breathe in – one, two, three.
don’t try and convince yourself otherwise.
breathe out. one, two.
you know it never works.
breathe.

the room feels carelessly cold on
every part of you except your new welts.
you have goosebumps and you hate them.

the lighter falls unceremoniously off the bed.
you imagine it catching flame to the carpet
and burning you alive
in this fucking prison.

your house? your body?
your head?
the pristine sheets
twisted at the end of your mattress?
do you know which is the prison
you want to destroy, and
which is your only home?

now, in the unforgiving dark,
you press your teary cheek
against your pillow.
now, you listen to the fistful of muscle
currently residing in your throat
pound in your ears.
now, you think of how sleep
isn’t going to take you
into her embrace —
exhaustion doesn’t merit rest.
self-inflicted wounds don’t merit healing.

now,
you have flash-fired out
what’s been choking you
for the moment, but you forget;
your head planted these weeds,
and weeds will grow back.

The Value of Experiences

What is the value of having experiences for a writer? Experiences add credibility, versatility, and authenticity. Would you rather read a cookbook written by Mr. Rogers or Gordon Ramsey? Would Jack London’s books be as popular if he only researched the Yukon and not actually went there? Is it genre specific, when reading a murder mystery, does the author need firsthand experience? One would hope not.  But this takes us back to the original question, what is the value of experiences for a writer?

Experiences allow a writer to leave the confines of their own immediate social context. They provide the ability to explore, question, and interact with the surrounding world and help to create a more well-rounded perspective. They can provide a foundation for a writer to draw upon and construct deeper meaning and connection points for the reader.

When talking about experiences, it is often assumed they have to be grandiose and elaborate, but experiences include more than taking a trip across the world, skydiving, bungee jumping, or biking across France. While such activities and big plans can be part of our collected memories, it is important not to overlook the value of the experiences offered throughout daily life.

Perhaps experiences are less about doing something and more about being present in the moment. To look up from your cellphone, take out the headphones and reclaim all five senses to interact with the world.

Experiences are an integral part of the way authors dedicate themselves to their craft and just like proper spelling or grammar, learning how to experience as a writer also takes practice but will ultimately benefit the story and draw in readers. To write, a person must first experience.

FOR DEAD THINGS COME ALIVE

fly blown and awesome, something horrid, she puts her hands on my cheek and screams, hot and death ridden, / it’s not like she meant to / she didn’t mean it; her eyes are wild, rolling, threadworm curling in her pupil / she’s dead / it’s easy / she’s dead. / how can her mouth still look so familiar / decay, the crushed velvet, the dark air pressing in from all sides, her pure paradox pushing back /  it feels, it feels like there’s something, moving, under her skin / burrow / like gliding a hunting knife between dermis epidermis fat muscle nerve / her nerves don’t feel anymore, right? does this insect hurt? its tunneling / pine beetle, resin / gold and permanent / like amber, trapped / the worm in her eye twists into a neat little knot / how does it know / there isn’t screaming anymore just, just her breath. her   breath? / it isn’t warm and i don’t know if it ever was? // rot, rotting, rotted. dead and gone. past tenses snag on the tongue / unnatural incandescent, insectoid crawling / gone and goner

Home Address

No.38, Lane 45, Zheng Yi S. Rd., San Chong Dist., New Taipei City, Taiwan

No. 38
We live at No 38.
It is a four-storey duplex cement building
Life is vertical, one piled on top of the other
One family’s leaking toilet
is the other one’s tragedy
When the mail man comes with his scooter,
he stops and shouts: hey, No. 38, your mail is here.

Lane 45
We live at Lane 45.
It is an alley; a series of cement buildings tower on both sides
Life is narrow, we share a strip of sky
Neighbours are like family
also never stop spying
We play hide and seek,
behind the scooter, in the staircase

Zheng Yi South Road, San Chong District
We live in San Chong District
It is a suburb of the capital, contain with hundreds of alleys
It is famous for its gangster activity
In reality, it is just a lovely community.
Life is warm-hearted
When mom goes to the traditional market for some veggies,
the vendors give her hot peppers to make the dishes tasty

New Taipei City
We live in New Taipei City
It sits in the northern tip
Surrounded by mountains and nursed by rivers
Containes within 24-hours stores and mass public transit
The city never sleeps
Life has no time limit
3 AM. in the morning, if you want something to eat,
Indeed, you are able to find something

Taiwan
We live in Taiwan
An island floating on the Pacific, tucked beside the mainland
Portuguese called it “Formosa” meaning a beautiful island
Magnificent mountains occupy most of it
leaving a small edge for 23.2 million human beings
Life is crowded
When it comes to identity
Chinese or Taiwanese or just human beings

Character Creation

For many, characters are what make a story. The plot and adventure play second to captivating character arcs and the ever-deepening struggle between protagonist and antagonist. To some, a well-developed character forgives the occasional plot hole. Characters are an important aspect to all stories and creating dynamic ones can be just as fun as reading about them.

For readers to fall in love with a story’s characters, the writer also has to be in love with them. Whether constructing a heroic leader or a ruthless villain all characters must be given attention and captivate the writer’s mind. A writer doesn’t have to like or agree with the actions of all of their characters, but they still have to spend time understanding them. When it comes to character creation, to know is often to love. The more an author understands their characters external and internal struggles, desires, and motivations, the more they sympathize and the more dynamic the character will become.

So, how does one begin getting to know their characters? Our suggestion – take them on a date and interrogate them. Or in other words, begin asking your characters questions and answer them as you imagine they would. What was the last funeral they went to? What is their grandmother’s maiden name? Where do they eat dinner? Ask all the gritty an absurd questions your imagination can think of.

Through these questions, an individual can discover the strange nuances and quirks that make their character tick. Coming up with interesting questions to ask characters isn’t always easy, so linked below are two resources to get you thinking.

The PROUST Questionnaire: A wonderful resource to get to know both your characters and family, The PROUST Questionnaire features 35 questions designed to get to know someone in a relatively short amount of time.

The Novel Factory: If 35 questions aren’t enough for you, The Novel Factory boasts 150 character questions covering such aspects such as physical characteristics, friends and family, spirituality, and values.

Music for Writing

Music can be a source of inspiration for all genres of writing. A lyric may spark an idea for a personal essay, a poem can be constructed from a melody, and a drama can be based off a symphony piece. Specifically, instrumentals and soundtracks can be used to challenge the imagination as listeners aim to find the story in the sound. Listed below are a few links to free instrumental music to get you writing.

Classical: Whether Mozart, Chopin, Vivaldi, or Bach, classical music continues to be a source of inspiration for many and a go-to for those looking to escape into their imagination.

Derek and Brandon Fiechter: From creepy carnival to Scottish and Irish music, Derek and Brandon Fiechter have created instrumentals which transport listeners across earth or to new fantasy worlds. With plenty of albums and new music coming every week, these composers have you covered with music to suit all moods and settings.

Fantastic Music: Utilizing music from mostly lesser-known artists, Fantastic Music uses a steady beat to create an atmospheric and thematic experience for listeners. Whether replicating the mood of a rainy weekend or a late-night stroll downtown, Fantastic music is sure to both relax you and get your mind wandering.

Robert Russell Composer: Staying mostly in the realm of fantasy music, Robert Russell tends to add a metal or quirky flare to his music. Opening his songs with two or three sentences about the characters or situation of the music, Robert Russell gives listeners a jumping off point to begin creating their own stories around his songs.

Peter Crowley’s Fantasy Dream: As the name suggests, this composer creates the music of fantasy worlds and mystical lands. Peter Crowley’s songs primarily rely on high energic adventure type music, leaving no room from relaxation or boredom. If his music doesn’t get you writing, it may just inspire you to start out on an adventure of your own.

My Secret Weapon

I put on my green fatigues and lace up my army boots to take my post. I am on the graveyard shift in the command post tent; I take up my earned leadership position. As I check the time, I read to myself 0200 hours. This role is typical for a newly promoted captain to be doing, that is, beginning to command an entire company of soldiers. I start my shift wearing cold clothing. A thin film of hoarfrost is covering the tent’s interior surface; my hands and feet are numb. I study the current positions of my soldiers on the map of this maneuver exercise. I am paying close attention to the known enemy locations, discovered earlier, and then back to my three platoons’ locations on the map. My soldiers are currently bunkered down for the night. I am thinking about how much cooler the platoon commanders and each of their 30 to 40 soldiers must be feeling in the role I inhabited previously.

I turned to the radio that sits quietly in the dimly lit tent. Only the occasional radio check disrupts the airwaves, offering reassurance that all the lines of communication remain functional. For the most part, the only noise heard is that of the camp stove humming. The heat from this stove is my attempt to keep the command post tent above freezing. I glance at a book that was keeping a radio operator alert earlier and notice the title, “All Quiet on the Western Front;” my lips break out in a subtle grin. You have a lot of time to find humour in the little things while on the graveyard shift of the command post.

After checking the current situation and confirming all the equipment for my shift, there is a lingering sense of security.  I scrounge through my gear to produce my magical potion for the evening as I lay out my tools careful not to miss a thing, a small pocket butane burner, a lighter, a package of government-issued instant coffee from my rations, my canteen and my canteen cup. I sit cross-legged with the burner between my legs and light it up with the romantic flame from that of an old Zippo lighter, the kind grandpa would have used to light cigarettes to stay awake on night sentry duty during the Second World War. Not being a smoker myself I seek out once more for my stimulant. The burner lights up with what appears to be a loud roar against the quiet atmosphere of the tent. Heat bellows out from its flame, and I begin to warm.

 

Years ago, as I sat at a table and patiently waited for breakfast on a board policy retreat weekend, a group of board members and I attempted to nurse and nourish ourselves from the previous evening’s festivities. It was a typical weekend of student governance, dull, methodical death by powerpoint by day and then letting loose in the evenings. Our bodies were tired, old motors that have been driven hard on far too little oil for far too long. Preparing to begin the second day of policy crafting, I needed something to give me an edge, to give my body the extra bit of performance to finish the mundane tasks ahead. No need for a complete rebuild of the engine, just a quick fix. That was the moment I decided to try this elixir of magic beans to see if it could be something that would help my predicament created by long days and even longer nights.

As the coffee began to pour for the first time into my cup, I listened to the sound that it made, smelled the aroma it produced, and patiently awaited the taste that I only ever imagined having up until this point. I carefully picked up the cup careful not to spill a drop of its potentially amazing healing powers; I noted the temperature that radiated from the porcelain into my hand and raised it to my lips. I inhaled one last breath to appreciate the aroma before its liquid touched my lips, hints of smoke, nuts, and spices graced my nostrils and awakened something inside me. I knew this was going to be big – something memorable. The mind-altering substance with the blackness of an overcast night hit my pallet with just the right volume of slurp to still be polite while in good company.

Instantly I was awakened. My senses grew sharp and my resolve hardened by the heat and bitter blows of the black magic of this brew. Like a blacksmith that hammers his work to form, I was ready to continue onwards with the tasks ahead aided by my new secret weapon.

 

My frozen body wishes it was sitting back at that breakfast table trying coffee for the first time. As my body begins to thaw, huddled around the burner, an inner sense of happiness starts to build. I open the package and dump the instant coffee into the frosty aluminum canteen cup which I then fill with frigid water. Placing the icy brown solution on the burner and smile openly knowing that the instant coffee that Her Majesty has provided will be shortly doing exactly what I require of it despite its cheap quality. The coffee’s heat intensifies, and it is ready for consumption. A large smile begins to peak on my face knowing full well that I will be getting my fix shortly. Pulling the coffee off the burner to cool slightly first, and then look over at the book and begin to reach for something to read with my coffee.

Suddenly, the familiar repeated crackle of machine-gun fire rings out in the distance like a brick thrown through a stained-glass window. Immediately what follows is an excited but stout voice on the radio “Contact, wait out.” The message is from one of my eager platoon commanders in this training scenario whose ready to win his firefight that he now is in. Knowing full well, he will provide me with the reports I need at the command post to do my job.

The command post springs to life with radio operators receiving reports from the platoon engaged through the almost unreadable squawks and chatter coming across the radio. Some reports require deciphering because of the sounds of gunfire that is coming across the means. Through this, we get our picture of the situation and learn the disposition of the enemy. Like a coach at a sporting event, we are looking at the big picture, engaged in the success of each player and line but ultimately ensuring success and victory for the team. I complete my combat estimate; then I issue my orders to the other platoons to counter the enemy. On these maneuvers, the other platoons strike with speed and aggression against an enemy for disrupting what the precarious peace of the evening.

Radio chatter fills the air with updates on their progress through to victory and consolidation. From here, I sit back and finally enjoy my coffee, which is now cold. My new position was tested in training this evening, and my mettle was confirmed. I sit back and sip the familiar brew pleased with the professionalism of my soldiers and the peace restored.