In an effort to maintain my sanity in this last year of dissertation writing, I am taking a few hours a week to write…for fun. That means forcibly removing myself from my home office, finding an inviting Leiden café within walking distance, enjoying a store-bought latte or Chai and writing about whatever I observe.
The introductory session took place today at Bagels & Beans on the Haarlemmerstraat, a surprisingly cheerful find on a street afflicted with frumpy chain stores. I’ve been here a number of times, and I’m gambling on its affinity to creativity. My only fear is that a patron may light up. Smoking will be banned in the Netherlands only in July 2008, and that day can’t come fast enough.
My luck has held out so far. I’m enjoying a spicy organic Chai with a tad too much cinnamon and eyeing the whole-wheat (100% bio!) bagel with Parma ham, rucola & pine nuts. I snagged a place next to the window, overlooking the shopping street. One of those eerily similar dog/owner combos just went by: A sheepdog barely able to see through its long, stringy grey hair, led tentatively by a man with a similar hairdo and lanky gait. Screaming children with helmet and bike meander by and are ignored by teenagers aggressive in their truancy. The rest of the walkers are a mixture of anonymous adults. Are they unemployed? Shift workers? On lunch break? Graduate students shirking their scholarly duties, just like me?
Mustn’t think like that. After all, My Advisor encouraged these breaks. His approval is as good as law. What’s this? The man across from me reaches in his pocket. My heart stops – no! Cigarettes! But it’s only his mobile phone. As my breathing returns to normal the waitress piles another spoonful of chocolate coffee beans onto an already overflowing saucer full of sugar cubes. It’s quiet without the coffee machines grinding, and strains of Vivaldi float overhead, soothing my spirit. This place seems like a pseudo office, as patrons have out a book, a scrap of paper or a notepad in front of them. Feels just about right.