Issue 2 of The Hip Traveller is online and ready for reading!

I had a piece accepted for this publication, entitled "The City of a Hundred Towers", and it discusses the architecture of Prague. What could be better than discussing my favorite architecture in my favorite city in the world? Nothing, methinks. :-)

There are certain books that, when read, require an accompanying drink and setting in my mind.

They fit the book, they fit my mood, they evoke the image of that story to me. It might be where I first read that book, or what I felt I needed to make the story complete to me.

A few of my examples...

  • A Superior Death by Nevada Barr - A glass of white wine while sitting on a lounger on a sun-dappled porch

  • Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner - A mug of chai while curled on an overstuffed sofa

  • Anything by Enid Blyton or J.K. Rowling - a cup of Bovril while reclining on a long couch

  • The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown - a grande coffee in a quiet coffeeshop

  • Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden - a cup of green tea while lying on a bed overflowing with pillows

  • Driver #8 by Dale Earnhardt Jr or A Little Bit Sideways by Scott Huler - a bottle of Bud while kicked back on a quiet front porch

  • Anything by Meg Cabot - a Diet Coke and a quiet corner where giggling is encouraged

  • Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding - an iced tea while sprawled on a blanket in the grass

  • The Probable Future by Alice Hoffman - a mug of hot chocolate while watching the rain pour down from a comfortable loveseat

  • The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger - a steamy cup of tea while staying up late in bed reading

  • Does everyone have such tastes, such settings, such memories of their favorite books?

    It's a great little tavern in the middle of a sleepy town - full of dark wood and scarred barstools, a small television in the corner and a sign that proclaims "this is a cash bar only!".

    The bartender is a woman with a wide smile and a friendly wave who pops open the Coke cans with her long fingernails while her husband stands lazily by the grill, watching Tiger Woods arc a perfect drive down a grassy green fairway on the television.

    I ambled in just before the midday rush, and though I've tried not to a thousand times, I had the same small feeling of dread.

    'I'm a single girl going into a bar alone for lunch. Everyone in there is going to think I'm some sad loser with no friends. They are going to feel sorry for me, and have whispered conversations mocking my sadness.'

    It's irrational, I know, but I think it every time I step into an eatery alone, a movie theatre, an event.

    The feeling only lasts a moment, but while it exists, I know I'm not fully confident in myself as I go through this world as my own person.

    With a shake of my head and a squaring of my shoulders, the irrationality is gone, and instead, I slip from single woman in dire need of some iced tea into an observer of a touristy town's small tavern.

    The pickings this day are ripe.

    I eavesdrop on a crowded table, listening to one woman ramble on and on while the others nod politely and escape into their menus. I know they are too polite to interrupt, too consumed with being nice, too eager to play tour guide to this visitor from the East to risk offending her. She continues on and on, finally slowing to a stop when it's clear she should be looking at the menu, not discussing her husband's colonoscopy in great detail.

    I watch two women in red hats and purple dresses consume two slices of cheesecake with contented smiles. They particularly delight in the cherries dripping in juice on the top. They eat it just as I would - crust first (the worst) and cherries last (the best).

    I wonder at a couple in the corner, who sit through their entire meal and yet never say a word to each other.

    I hope I never get to the point where I have nothing to say, no matter how trite or trivial.

    More and more people come in, and from my perch on the bar, I'm afforded an uninterrupted view into their lives, their days, and their relationships with one another.

    Suddenly, it seems I'm more fortunate than I thought to be alone in a room of such interesting subjects, because I get to see and hear the things they never will.

    Leaving my tip on the bar, I wave to the bartender as I confidently walk to the door, enjoying the hush as people look up from their tables to watch me glide by.

    I can't help but smile to myself as I push open the heavy door and step into the sunshine.

    There is a certain silence that accompanies Sunday mornings.

    As I sit in the sunshine, the only sounds I hear are the buzzing of my hummingbird's wings as it flits from my petunias to my cosmos to my verbena, and back again.

    There are none of the usual sounds of my neighborhood rousing themselves for work - no dogs being let out, no cars speeding towards town, no garbage trucks rumbling around their daily route.

    I sit in the sunshine with my book, and I wonder what rituals everyone else has for a Sunday morning. I'm sure for many they include church, or a family meal, or maybe a trip into the big city. But even then, Sunday morning sounds so different.

    For me, Sunday morning rituals are small sounds: coffee being poured into my favorite mug, the crack of a spine on a new book, the click of my keyboard, the door snicking shut behind me as I step onto my flower-covered patio.

    If only every day could start as serenely as Sundays.