Cafe Life

 

As I brush through the fly screen into the quiet atmosphere of the early morning lull, I am greeted with a call “Morning, Kylie.”
I lift my head. “Good morning,” I chime back in reply as I dump my heavy bag on my usual table. A single table, with two chairs, second up from the door, far enough away not to the catch the breeze. I would have preferred a seat by the window, in the comfy chair, but I loathed taking up two tables and four chairs for hours at a time – just for me and my laptop, didn’t seem proper, you know. 

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The new owners of my cafe – my cafe, funny that, it’s away’s been MY cafe in my head, even though, technically, I don’t own the place – anyway – the new owners are delightful, cheerful and always up for a chat. I still haven’t managed to figure out their names yet, but considering it took me several years to learn the names of the previous owners, I’m not to fussed, it will come in time.

I have been told to find another place, to move on – time and time again – but I am a creature of habit, someone who loves familiarity. Perhaps it isn’t a good thing, perhaps it is, perhaps I am stuck in a cycle that circles around and around, I do not know, but I love the comfort that comes with knowing a place and the people within it, and watching the world change gradually, year by year. I have seen women marry, new born children grow up, start school, all from my seat within this cafe. I’ve talked with war vets, listened to their heroic tales take me to Germany, England and to the skies within planes, or the fields of Africa, all while mulling over a cappuccino. 

My cafe is like the TARDIS. 

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It can transport me anywhere. Through the people within it, that share the magical place with me. 

Before the previous owners left one of the patrons painted a painting that now hangs in the cafe. When I first saw it, I just smiled, thinking; “Oh, that’s lovey, they put in some of the regulars…” I was a little sad, as I couldn’t see myself in my regular spot so I thought I must not have been included. 
Silly me.
Silly, silly me.
I was standing by the counter one misty winters morning and the painting had been hung on the wall nearby. As I was waiting for my turn, something caught my eye and I started laughing. It was me. There I was, sitting towards the back of the painting, wearing my black coat, my beanie, with my laptop and my  books. My eyes grew damp and my chest tightened. Was this what I looked like in the eyes of the other patrons?
It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen – myself – in a painting. 

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Perhaps this sounds ridiculous, or maybe it’s just me, but I feel, almost as though I have become part of a mythos, that is gradually being crafted, day after day, year after year. A mythos that is our incredible little pocket in the world. And here I am, sitting it, writing stories of other worlds. Isn’t that just the most delightful thing.  

 

 

Bonfire Night

 

 

Last weekend my parents had some visitors from the Philippines over. It was wonderful to see them again after many years. I am the only one of my family who hasn’t visited the shanties, so I am always enthralled by the stories they have to share about the children we’ve supported over the past couple of decades.

As everyone was swapping stories, my Dad happened to mention something interesting – as he often does – Bonfire Night, or Guy Fawkes Night – due to him mentioning the time he, my mother and older brother spent in the Philippines on New Years Eve and just how alarmingly loud the fire works there had been. I was fascinated when he said that as a child, here in Australia we’d had a celebration in which fireworks and bonfires had been a major part.

My father turned to me with his knowing smile. “It was a celebration about the day when Guy Fawkes didn’t blow up the British Parliament, didn’t you learn about it at school?”

I was moue. “No,” I replied. “I didn’t learn anything interesting about Australian or British history at school.”

A couple days later and I was on Facebook and I stumbled across this trailer for a new mini-series. What’s it for? Yeah, the story behind that plot on November the 5th. I just sat there laughing, thinking how ironic it was that my Dad and I had just been talking about it on the weekend.

Our history, and our culture is so interesting – it is full of such incredible tales that I was never told. I sort of had an idea there was something behind the 5th of November because I’ve seen “V for Vendetta”, but I’d never researched into it. I rather wish at school, in history class, our teacher could have told the fascinating tales that gradually lead to Australia being the nation it is. Sure, we don’t celebrate Guy Fawkes Night now (though, I really wish we did, what an interesting tradition, and traditions create bonds, culture and stories within a country –  I understand why they stopped it though) but I feel the story should be told, and kept on being told, so the history can continue, and become legend, and that legend remains a part of the culture we’ve become. We shouldn’t forget where we’ve come from, and what has made us, shaped us – what scars have crafted us into the nation of Australia.

I love it when my Dad tells me a piece of history that reminds me we’re all stories, just waiting to be told.

 

I never wanted to be a stereotype…

A stereotype.
I recall hearing the word frequented in writing classes I attended – telling me to avoid stereotypes, type-casting characters into cookie cutter blocks, that I needed to give them flaws and backgrounds, something to make them seem human to the readers.
I was young, gosh, I had to be – fifteen – yeah – about fifteen. Gracious me – FIFTEEN – I didn’t know anything about what the world had to offer.
Sweet sixteen, they say, don’t they, when you get your first kiss?
No, I had my stolen from me at twenty-eight and it was the worst experience ever.  I’m filing that under memories I wish I could erase, clean my whiteboard from all the smudges that horrid recollection drudges up, every time I re-loop the memory. I’m such a broken record.

I find, though, that stereotypes in writing can sometimes be useful. It simply depends on how skilled the author in question is, in using them – much like all other tools in the library of tools at the disposal of an author.

However, a stereotype of real life is another discussion all together.
Some stereotypes can have negative continuations.
I wanted to be a particular sort of stereotype – I wanted to be a stay-at-home-mother.
It was the dream. I didn’t care what anyone ever said, it was my dream.
It is a dream that is gradually fading away. Is it my fault? Perhaps. Sometimes I think it is.

I am an author, an illustrator – and I fear I have become a stereotype of that – I live at home, with my parents. I am a lover of pop-culture, a collector of stuff, (or junk, as my family would say) and I even have a cat, who I’m a little bit…ah…overly fond of. I mean, if she dropped dead, yeah, I’d be sad, but I’d just get another one. But she is my companion. I do love her, but she’s just a pet. I just happen to not have…many people to talk to…so…I talk to a cat.
It’s weird.
And so, I am weird.

And I am ashamed of this.
Yet I cannot change who I am. I like who I am. I love this young woman I have become.
I adore the enjoyment I get out of simple things. How I light up at entertainment, and can see the beauty in art that people often scoff at, how the stories in anime utterly delight and enthral me, and I can get lost in their worlds for days thinking on their deep, deep topics. I might not manage large crowds of people, and I’m awful in big groups, but get me started on a topic I love, or world politics, or the creation of the universe, or the beauty in this world, and I could talk for hours.
Sure, I am weird – but I am weirdly wonderful.

A part of me truly hopes that someday I will be that mother, but if that dream never comes to pass, then I am already living a wonderful dream.
I am a fantasy author – with a cat.
I’m going to write, and keep writing, until all my stories are told.