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Monday April 17, 2006, 01:40

With a couple of exceptions (notably the ones that kept me out until 4am, a time that has become more and more rare for me to see as I have been trying to shift my life earlier and earlier), this weekend was the epitome of what a weekend should be for me. The ideal weekend is something that is dangerous to try to codify - the mere definition of the thing may be exclusionary to a single element that would make it even more of an ideal situation (see: maximizer vs. satisficer a la The Paradox of Choice), and yet I am willing to go out on a limb and say that, again, with those notable exceptions, this weekend was a weekend done right.

Several months ago, my local pro photo lab closed one of its locations, and the space lay dormant for a while. Three weeks ago, a new coffee place opened in its place, with couches, electrical outlets for laptops, a portion of the proceeds donated to local charities, and an abundance of college students with laptops and text books. Since visiting my friend's Ritual Coffee Roasters in San Francisco, I've been looking for something local that I could call my local coffee establishment. Considering my arrival to the coffee club somewhat late in life (it was only post college that I discovered coffee, limiting my experiences prior to that to mochas - a beverage that, today, I could not even consider consuming in anything but the most extreme circumstances), I've been longing for an establishment that would know my order, that would feel familiar and, more recently, that could serve as a remote office for me when I was tired of working out of my apartment. While it turns out that I probably don't need an office for myself, I could probably use an excuse to get out of here on a daily basis and actually interact with other human beings.

So, for a trial run at least, Think Coffee is going to be my new home away from home. The Mud Spot, three avenues away, just never had the right vibe for me. It's far more of a cafe for meeting friends than a cafe for working, its small size lending itself more to intimate conversations huddled over mugs of espresso than hours upon hours of debugging code while sipping on an endlessly stretched cup of regular coffee (with skim milk). alt.coffee over on Avenue A was that when I lived next door, and Think will fill the niche now, being all of five (short) blocks away from me.

I thrive on routine. The irony of my life as a freelancer is that I am forever looking for structure, and am unable to function effectively without it. That said, the structure imposed on my life by an actual full-time office job is too much for my brain to handle, and it drags my productivity through the mud, so it is also a delicate balance for me trying to find a way to structure my life just enough for me to feel free enough to not feel structured. So Saturday and Sunday morning I grabbed my newspaper from outside my front door (an adventure in itself as I duck outside and back in quickly for fear that my neighbors may see me in my underwear) and instead of plopping down on my sofa, instead turned right back around (after putting on pants, of course), and headed out to Think for the inaugural weekend morning newspaper reading ritual.

The experience was, to say the least, incredibly enjoyable.

The coffee was good, the bagel satisfying, and the establishment vibrant. Not sure what the music was yesterday, but this morning I was compelled to walk up to the counter and inquire about the CD playing; it was Tegan and Sara, who I first saw at Coachella last year (and who I could not identify if my life depended on it as they sound strangely like Juliana Hatfield, except with two voices, not one, so in that sense I guess they sound more like the Murmurs, and do I sound quite sissy enough yet?). Armed with this information, I was even able to chime in as the girls sitting next to me puzzled over the very same question ("Yeah, I don't know, they've got that other song, that's like, yeah, I can't really remember what it's...").

As far as the ideal weekend classification, the rest of the weekend was filled with a walk through a street fair where I picked up a replacement for a scratched Morphine CD, an old Juliana Hatfield album, and a Mary Timony review copy from 4 years ago, a bike ride out to Brooklyn for a friend's BBQ, a ride over to Red Hook for a birthday party, up to Brooklyn Heights to celebrate the incorporation of another friend's new non-profit, and back across the bridge to a bar where a different set of friends was DJing. Again, the power of routine comes through again with the knowledge that on any given Thursday or Saturday I will be able to find people I know at a particular bar in the Lower East Side. And while I am still completely inept at actually interacting with people in a bar setting, it's nice to know that they're always going to be there (the friends, that is, not the awkward interactions, which will also always be there).

That said, the bar is what led to the unfortunate situation that found me pouring myself into my bed at 4:30 in the morning, knowing full well that waking up would find me groggy and unwilling to face the day, regardless of how much the sun decided to shine on my face. I ended up waking up several hours after I normally find comfortable on the weekend, but despite that, I was still able to head over to Think for coffee and a bagel.

I suspect that in the coming months, that place will save my sanity.

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