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2001-11-27 - 4:03 p.m.

So itís the last week of NaNoWriMo. Iíve written 35,000 words, which is so close to my goal of 50,000 (by Friday at midnight), that Iím determined to finish. If I write 5,000 words each day for the next three days, Iíll even be done early! Surely, pure obstinacy will pull me through this. That, and lots of caffeine.

But I could also use some help. If you have any suggestions for things to write about, feel free to email me.

Rob told me to write about coffee shops. Surprisingly, I had a lot to say about coffee shops. Here is a revised excerpt:

In college, I was scared of coffee shops, like I was scared of most things back then. Coffee shops were where the cool kids hung out. I was never a cool kid. I didnít even drink coffee. If it was warm outside, I ordered lemonade. It it was cold, I ordered hot chocolate, with whipped cream.

There were four coffee shops that I remember in Athens, Georgia, when I was a student there, back in the early nineties (remember the early nineties?): the Athens Coffee House, the Espresso Royale Cafť, Jittery Joeís, and Blue Sky. They were all intimidating in their own right. Athens Coffee House was frequented by the older intellectuals (and it was rumored that Michael Stipe took Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain there when they were in town); it went out of business my sophomore year. The Espresso Royale Cafť (or ERC, if you were cool) was populated by the pretentious grad students. Jittery Joeís was open 24 hours a day and located right next to the 40 Watt Club; people smoked pot in the back room. And then there was Blue Sky. Blue Sky was the only coffee shop I went to on a regular basis. The shop was longer than it was wide, and the front wall was actually a garage door; even when the door was wide open, on nice days, the place was dimly lit. About half a dozen tables had lamps on them, and they were highly coveted. As soon as one was vacated, there was a mad dash to fill it. I would sit at a table with a lamp for hours, watching people go by through the open garage door, doing my homework, and making my lemonade last as long as I could.

It was hard for me to go to those places by myself. My social anxiety has lessened, as Iíve gotten older, but I still find myself using the same tricks I used back then. My first trick is to convince myself that Iím invisible, followed by several calming breaths. If that doesnít work, I tell myself that I have goddess-like powers. That line was given to me, actually, by an aging record store employee in Athens, who probably had no idea that I would carry it around like I have. It was one of those hip record stores, frequently found in small college towns, occupied by surly employees. I wanted to look at a few of the tapes (the early nineties being pre-cd player for me), which were kept against the wall, behind a counter, to protect against shoplifting, I suppose. When I asked the aging record store employee if he would get them for me, he looked me straight in my eyes, and said, "You have goddess-like powers. You can go back there and grab those tapes for yourself." I went behind the counter and grabbed those tapes for myself.

Iíll be spending a lot of time in coffee shops this week. Iíll be the invisible one, pretending I have goddess-like powers.

Oh, and special thanks to Sarah for the snazzy redesign, which did not do nearly enough to test her extensive html coding abilities. But I like it all the same.

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