F is for Family: A to Z Writing Challenge

As October gave way to November Alice Zunay, still grieving over the death of her dog Daisy, fell into a routine of study and work, with some play. Her work ethic and love of the coffee shop where she worked, Il Cafe di caffeina Amore or The Cafe of Caffeinated Love, resulted in a promotion to assistant manager and a little more money each week. It also led her to take her books and find a hour or two of study time during the week as the traffic slowed after 6 PM.

But soon Thanksgiving break came and her dad Mike came to get her.

With tears of joy and lingering grief, she ran into his arms, “Daddy, I’ve, I’ve mis…” and she sobbed into his shoulder. On the trip home, she talked non-stop about her classes, her dorm floor, and college life. He just listened. Then she brought up her encounter with Greg.

“Interesting,” he said with a slight catch in his voice.

“Yeah, I really wanted to thank him but he was gone. Vanished. But I think I sometimes see him coming out of the social science hall and when I get to where I think he is, he’s not there.”

“Well, A, he may have been an angel.”

Squeals of delight were expressed loudly when Alice was greeted by her twin cousins Allison and Ashley who attended a rival school when she exited the car at her home.

“Have we got a lot to tell you!”

“Have I got a lot to tell you!”

Thanksgiving morning found them trying to stay awake and drinking so much coffee at their grandparents house, they kept running to the bathroom.

But a conversation with her grandfather was the delight of her evening. She had him all to herself.

“Sounds like quite a couple of months so far!”

“Oh gramps, it has been!”

“And what about the boys?”

“Grrramps!” she gushed and blushed. “There are some cute boys but I am too busy studying and working.”

“Uh huh, I understand that you are running that coffee shop. What’s it called “I’ll a drinka cafe?”

“No,  Il Cafe di caffeina Amore or The Cafe of Caffeinated Love.”

“What’s to love about caffeine? It makes me pee!”

“Gramps!”

“Alice, what about God? Where is God for you right now?”

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C is for Coffee and Cash (and lots of both!): A to Z Writing Challenge

First of all, thanks to those of you who have read, liked and commented on posts so far. I am trying to read more and more A to Z posts myself but it is hard keeping up!

Here’s today’s installment and again to get familiar with Alice Zunay, college student, here is my A post from April 1st  http://wp.me/p4o6wC-2hq 

A week had gone by and Alice soon found her rhythm (she hated the word routine as she was in Marching Band and loved working with the rhythm) of class, study, socializing, and work.

Well not quite for work. She had yet to get a job.

She had worked as a waitress in a local restaurant for the past two summers and had mixed feelings about the experience. She liked the customer interaction but always thought that she should be in a “trendier” place like a coffee shop. Her neighbor Dara had worked in the local coffee shop but had told her that it was a place where the men, almost always over 60, were always flirting with her and trying to set her up with a nephew or a grandson. “There was only one guy that I was interested in but it turned out he was secretly engaged!”

But money was needed for laundry (home was four hours away), the trips to the mall to buy, well, very little of anything, the daily necessities of personal hygiene, and for the various social events that were, basically going out to a coffee shop or eating establishment and eating or drinking coffee. (Her dad sternly warned her away from bars until 21 and that was fine with Alice because the one time she tried booze, whiskey to be precise, she threw up all the next day.)

But, as she often heard, “good things come to those who wait,” and that waiting paid off in a job offer… in a coffee shop.

Encountering an overworked staff at a place called Il Cafe di caffeina Amore or The Cafe of Caffeinated Love, Alice sprung into action to help them clear cluttered tables. The owner, Mr Lundi, was so impressed that he offered her a job on the spot!

“Yes!” she shouted.

“Maria, throw out the Help Wanted sign. We have help.”

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My review of Donna Freitas’ book The End of Sex

“Men and women both spoke of how they wanted to be made to feel special, to experience what 10814548it was like when someone else wanted to know everything about them. They yearned for someone to make an effort to create a beautiful setting in which such knowing and being known could occur, for someone who would set aside lavish amounts of time for this to take place. That women and men harbor secret wishes for what appear to be the old-fashioned trappings of romance seem symptomatic of hookup culture’s failings. What they want is everything that hookup culture leaves out.”  from chapter 8 “Opting Out of the Hookup Culture via The Date”

Donna Freitas has handed parents, clergy, college and high school faculty, church youth ministers, and all caring and concerned adults a book to sit and read – alone but more important with a group – then formulate a plan to help young adults deal with the issue of sex in their lives whether or not they agree with those young adults’ decisions on how they will respond after the fact. The End of Sex: How Hookup Culture Is Leaving A Generation Unhappy, Sexually Unfullfilled, and Confused About Intimacy (Basic Books) is a book that made me mad at times, confused at others, saying “Seriously? Really? Seriously?,” at other points but in the end reminded me, as the father of two teenage boys and a pastor in the Protestant tradition that I need to help my teens, and other teens, think long and hard about sex, intimacy, and romance because they are part of the human experience not just in college but throughout adulthood.

Freitas’ book begins with a survey of the ‘hookup world’ of college and university life that she culls from personal and on-line interviews with college and university students at both secular and religious institutions. It is a confusing world, it seems, in which feelings about hooking up (which is anything from kissing to full genital intercourse without a desire for a commitment beyond the hookup ) is the common norm of university life today.

She then goes on to address the role that alcohol plays in the dynamic of hook up culture which she calls “the X factor… the ingredient that students turn to in order to overcome their hesitation.” This is followed by a chapter in which the words “ambivalent and uncomfortable” describe the reactions of college women and men to the hook up culture in which, it is assumed, people have had sex before they arrive at college and will have sex in college.

Then Freitas turns to a troubling aspect of the hook up culture called “Theme Parties” (weekend parties) where it is assumed that men hold the power positions and the women “ho” themselves as they act out themes common in contemporary porn. Then she turns to theme of men and manhood (“guyland” in the book) and a wonderful chapter on the real feelings of college men about their hook up experiences. Finally she turns to a discussion of virginity in the concluding context and chapters of opting out of the hook up culture and a re visioning the value and importance of abstinence as well as reviving the role of dating as means of helping young adults rethink hookups. The result is a very challenging but essential reading about the personal lives of college and university students and the truly ambivalent feelings they have about sex today.

Full of insightful thoughts and quotes, one does not have to agree with Freitas and her views and I certainly do not on several fronts, but The End of Sex is a book that forces the reader to consider how they might help a young adult they know learn how to navigate the very real and, I think, disconcerting and even scary, world of relationships. She concludes her book with some suggestions in this regard.

This book, in my opinion, is more than just about sex. It is about life, love, and relationships. It is a hard hitting assessment of contemporary culture and of young people who are awash in a sea of mixed messages and loneliness about the most intimate aspect of human life.

I rate this book a “great” read.

Note: I received a galley copy of this book from the publisher via Net Galley in exchange for a review. I was not required to write a positive review.