• Dr Margi Brown Ash

Coffee Shops in Reykjavik

So it's earlier today.

I'm sitting in a cafe. The name is not easy to remember.

It's a coffee shop. Downtown. In Reykjavik Iceland, that gloriously artistic community so far north.

I write, I check out a reference and write again.

I then move through the city. This glorious city. I find another coffee shop. I need another small adventure. A hot chocolate. I'm not sure how to pronounce the name of this coffee shop. But it is on the top floor. That is where most of the coffee shops are inside the many bookstores in town. I order my hot chocolate and I sit near the window.

"Why do I love this place so much when I hardly know it?"

I look out the window. And my eyes see a book, left by the previous inhabitant of this table. It's David Teboul's book "Boris Mikhailov: I've been here once before". But I haven't. I pick it up anyway: always on the look out for inspiration and I look through this book of Boris Mikhailov's images and I fast flip to page 363 and find:

"1. Pandora's box. So what's this box? This box contains working material. "Look at this picture...that gesture...the's got something"

I put the book down. I now have a topic for this piece of writing, written specifically for my audience, this audience. You. It's called

"Look at this picture. That gesture. The gesture. It's got something" or

"Pandora's Box".

I want to write something today as a way of expressing my choices, both large choices ---not not large choices less interesting---small choices. Better.

Earlier I scrolled through the Internet, password "BULLDOG" knowing that everything I can possibly say in this coffee shop has already been said. I set myself a task: if I notice something anything I will be that much closer:

"Closer to what?" I ask myself

"Closer to self understanding you ...expletive...To an understanding of self. Towards meaningful awareness".

"Oh" I say, (inside my head I am almost judging my all knowing self)

"Ok" I say...I'll begin with a profound statement:

"Writers are custodians of memory"

"You didn't say that"

"I am not saying I did. Give me a break. William Zinsser Z I N S S E R he said that"

"Oh. OK. I agree. And as custodians it is our job to pass these memories down the generations"

"Trust you to make writing a responsibility. I just want to enjoy writing. Pen on paper. What comes next?"

"Oh, by the way, Zinsser also suggests we don't try to be a writer. We need to be ourselves. We need to make a transaction with our memories and personal history...

"Ok. Hello memories.[silence]. Well hello memories. [again, silence].

It seems memories do not want to make a transaction with me!

And so I wait.

Like I usually/always do.

I wait for the memory to present itself. Women are very good at waiting. We wait for others to begin. But Anne almost dreams this on. Apart from waiting her suggestion is

"Turn off Twitter

And don't clean the house. That's what it takes to create the rich life you deserve"

Ah, de-serve. The opposite of serve. Those who serve, wait. But one of the joys of life. Domestic life. Is to serve.

To serve one's audience

To serve one's family

To serve something that is greater than oneself.

So I put down the word deserve de-serve and stand next to the word of service;

"Oh come on" you don't even know what you're talking about. Your trying to be clever. One of the rules of writing is "be yourself".

I look at Miffed that I had caught myself in the act of disservice to self. Don't be too clever.

Ok ok

And then I wait.

Damn it waiting returns with a vengeance.

I'm back where I started.

Where I can't possibly deserve to be. I am the seal woman I have lost my skin I have lost my skin on the way to an Icelandic coffee shop. I have lost my skin.