All in on the ass-thetic

If you're seeing this photo on a browser, you're lucky. This problem's been bugging me for weeks.

I've opined here, many times across many years, about that little fantasy I have of working in a coffee shop. Like, I'd settle down in one, open my laptop, and start typing away, for hours on end, just ordering something every so often so it doesn't look like I'm overstaying.

The thing is, that fantasy stayed despite the fact that I've done this many times in recent years. I have settled down in many coffee shops, from pedestrian to third-wave. I have ordered many iced coffees and a slightly smaller number of pastries - and, in some cases, lunch. I opened my laptop and typed away for hours on end. I have fulfilled the fantasy, and yet to me it feels like something I'm far away from attaining, at least for the next handful of whiles.

And then I realized why.

I've harbored another fantasy all these years, and perhaps for even longer: owning a Mac. I may have mentioned here dreaming about owning one since I was a high school freshman, which didn't help in the "Niko isn't that weird" department. And yes, I could've bought a Mac in the many years since. I mean, I have had three iPhones, and they're almost as expensive. Yet I never got around to really committing to the bit. I bought Windows devices, despite my judgment, because I felt the transition would be costlier. Well, my regular annoyance at the laptop I'm writing this entry on now - five years old, and freezing almost constantly - is, well, costlier, but then, not everybody has disposable income. I certainly don't, and I work as hard as I can.

The thing with Windows laptops is that you can never be truly mobile. In all those aforementioned instances I had to bring my power cord around, and find a spot where I can plug in and type away. Four hours of battery life isn't really liberating, and the tendency of my laptop's battery to take weeks to fully charge means I'm tethered to the grid constantly. Also, if I was all about keeping up appearances, stooping down to find a power outlet, then plugging the damn thing on the wall, is clunky and clumsy. And the pay-off? A chunky laptop.

Yeah, I'm not really that shallow. I mean, I've done that many times, and nobody really cares, come to think of it. Everybody works in a coffee shop when they have to. Most of those people just happen to have a Mac, with half a day of battery life. They look more confident. I am still not confident. Sometimes I hope I had to do this with as few people potentially watching as possible.

That happened a few weeks ago, when I had to finish the day job's magazine at a Satchmi branch. Yep, that vinyl record store slash overpriced restaurant, that place where I made a fool of myself at least once in my short history as a pretend music blogger. It was the only place that would theoretically allow me to stay for five hours - the Starbucks branches nearby would only let me stay for an hour, because we're still in the middle of a never-ending pandemic. Thankfully, the place was deemed a bit too, well, high-concept - is that the right term? - for most that I was alone for three and a half hours, which meant nobody was watching as I pulled out this laptop, its power cord, a wired mouse (I always preferred that for longevity), and wired earphones (same reasons).

"I'm all in on the ass-thetic," I texted Shalla, as I settled down, opened my first ever bottle of cold brew, and started typing.

If I was all about keeping up appearances, my saving grace would be her iPad, which I also brought with me, because I had to illustrate something. I was typing and drawing and designing pages. I have long been a one-man magazine maker - a fantasy I stumbled upon years ago and never got out of - but in this moment, I was really living it. But then, it could be better. I could have a Mac. Ah, well, I could always borrow Shalla's laptop and head off to a coffee shop and finally live the dream.

That, I did a few days before, when I found myself alone at a Tim Hortons and finished half a cover story on her laptop with a far better battery life - handy considering the store staff taped up all the power outlets because, well, we're still in the middle of a never-ending pandemic. The occasional teething pain aside - I've long known the vagaries of the command, control and option keys, but without practice it will remain somewhat mystifying - it all worked out fine, and I only had to order two donuts and one iced coffee.

That was it. Me, living the fantasy I've harbored for years. It isn't as fun as it looks. Either that, or I really, really lack the confidence to pull it off.

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