Tuesday, February 22, 2011

creative writing and creative coffee

I've been loving both of my English classes, especially because they balance each other out so. 17th -20th century British Lit is explication of classical poetry and literature (The Rape of the Lock, Paradise Lost, Great Expectations, etc), while Creative Writing is reading all eras of poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction and then learning what makes them good. So today in Creative Writing our free-writing assignment was to, without guilt or restraint, describe The Worst Person We Have Ever Known or Met. This was difficult for me. There are certainly people I dislike being around and conversing with, and people who have wronged me over the years, but Worst Person? The harshness of such a title made me skittish to assign it to anyone at all - there must be some redeeming quality in everyone, some explanation for their behavior, some inappropriate bias on my own part that makes them seem so bad.

But that type of thinking was not what the assignment called for. This was just the Worst Person in my experience, which technically meant they needn't actually be that bad, only Worse than everyone else I knew. So I wrote (no, I won't share who - but it isn't you). I then listened to the sharing of other people's 'Worsts'. The variation was astounding. For one girl it was a horrible boy in kindergarten who disobeyed the teacher and disrupted the class. In retrospect, she said, the teacher was more at fault than the child, but at the time she was appalled by his behavior. One boy had a mansion-building, illegally-car-parking, suing, spitting neighbor. Another person had a co-worker who was profane and condescending, and whom she was simply horrified by in all her time at that job. Someone's uncle was lavishly generous but attached feud-fueling strings to everything. Despite this interesting social/writing experiment that picked apart the worst in others, I still have faith in humanity - and am interested in knowing more about what determines one's Worst Person. Is the person colored more heavily by the passing of time? Does one's age effect one's perception? Did one encounter that person in a momentary glitch of pessimism? I'd bet that Disruptive Kindergarten Boy grew up just fine.

On another front, I am loving Thai iced coffee, which I tried this weekend in downtown Wheaton. The Thai place's ice cubes are intriguingly shaped like mushrooms - not sure if it is intentional or not. Recipe below:

Prepare a pot of strong coffee.
In the ground coffee, add 2 or 3 freshly ground cardamom pods. (To grind yourself, peel the pods and the crush with the flat of a knife).
Sweeten to taste with sugar while hot, then cool quickly. Serve in a fun glass over ice, with a few tablespoons of cream.
To get the layered effect, place a spoon atop the coffee and pour the milk carefully into the spoon so that it floats on the top of the coffee.
If you want to: attempt funky ice cubes for added flair!

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