I love coffee. I love the smell, I love the taste, I love the caffeine. I have a "coffee cabinet" at home where I keep all my coffee and just opening the cabinet door makes my mouth water. It smells comfortable and warm. For the record, iced coffee is not really coffee. Coffee is hot. There's no reason to discuss this.
But one of my favorite things about coffee is that it is a social drink. I know the saying is "in vino veritas" (in wine there is truth) but there's something about the nature of coffee that brings out a genuine communicative spirit in people...without all the silliness that alcohol can bring. If you need proof that coffee is magic, just know that coffee is the special elixir that makes even a hermit like me want to sit down in a public space with people and have a conversation.
Stealing a great idea from Jerry Seinfeld, I've created my own little series of "Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee". Except I'm no comedian and the car thing rarely works out because I mostly meet people for coffee. In the past few months I've had conversation and coffee with Kevin Morrissey, a superstar high school art teacher from Summerville, Ali Stigal, my first sculpture studio student worker from Lander, Ashley "the whisk" Bush, a former student and racquetball buddy, Donovan, professor of religion at Belmont University, G, my lovely wife and several others. And each time I got to enjoy some good coffee and some good company.
Some of these coffee sessions have popped up on my Instagram but I keep thinking that there's something really cool about these people that you don't get to know because you weren't there. And Instagram doesn't really lend itself to lengthy stories under the photos because who really has time to read all that crap when you're trying to scroll through everything new in your feed before you fall asleep at night? So I've thought about creating a space for those coffee talks here. It's an excuse to write more often and a way to introduce you to some of the really exceptional people I'm lucky enough to trick into getting coffee with me. So grab yourself a coffee and read on...
Let me introduce you to this week's "Coffee With McAbee" gang. Left to right is Armir, Laura and Katherine.
Armir is one of those people you run across in life and you just know he's a good human. He's professional, helpful, thoughtful and he's a natural leader. I think I've known Armir forever. He wont see this post but if he did he would think that was funny because his path through his degree has not been a traditional one. Armir is in the Air Force reserve and he's been called up a couple of times while he's been an art major at Lander. This means Uncle Sam has pulled him away for some travel to exotic places and delayed his 4 year plans. So I met him as a freshman 7 or 8 years ago. Then he came back. Then he spent some time in the sand and now he's back again to finish up.
Last semester was his first semester back and we worked about an hour once each week into our schedules for coffee at the on-campus Starbucks. We have always enjoyed a very honest dialog and that's one of the things that makes you want to be around him. We also share some "basic" taste in coffee so we make sure to have all the fancy, sweet coffees and we dare anyone to make fun of us. Then we share advice and funny stories and talk about how great our salted caramel mochas are.
This semester doesn't allow us quite as much time but we've carved out 30 minutes and we even invited some other people to join us.
Which brings us to Laura. Laura is from the town I live in and we both have the same daily commute to Lander. I met Laura when she came in as a freshman art major. I taught her, watched her graduate and then became a coworker with her when she joined the university as a photographer. She still comes to some of our art events and she even slogs with us pretty often too. Twice this week we've driven behind one another on the drive in to work. Laura is also an honest and awesome person. She babysat Blue and Violet several times, took some family portraits for us and she's been brave enough to dog-sit a few times. If I trust you with my kids and dogs....that's really saying something. Laura is good people. Like Armir, she speaks her mind and you can count on her telling you the truth. She also loves people. The real kind of love that causes you to spend your vacation days from work traveling to Haiti to serve others. But maybe don't tell anyone that Laura has coffee talk with us because I don't know if her boss knows!
The lady on the right is Katherine. She's one of my current students and one of my current sculpture studio workers. She's in our BFA degree and she's been a standout student since the first project in my 3D Design class. A year ago she had never even seriously considered sculpture as something she'd want to do and now she's well on her way to being a professional sculptress. She is an honest and trustworthy person (notice the pattern here?) as well. And despite the fact that she's prone to enjoy a coffee with ice in it every now and then, she's really fun to talk to about art. When you ask her to consider a work of art or an idea about art, she will take that as the most serious challenge in her life. She will devote herself to really taking it apart and analyzing the concept before providing a well-thought-out critique of it. She's just as serious about her projects and she really devotes herself to them. Last semester she logged the most hours per week in the sculpture studio by a ridiculous amount.
So these three coffee pals are from three different time periods and we all somehow came together over coffee. While they are all honest, genuine and trusted people, perhaps the most important character trait to me is that they all enjoy a good laugh. When you're starting your day, or perhaps looking for a friend to hang out with, there's just nothing like a good jolt of sugar and caffeine and a good laugh. If you're lucky enough to be near these three humans, make it your goal to become their friend. You will be a better person for knowing them.
And if you like coffee and don't mind me, I'm always looking for more excuses to drink extra coffee. Email me.