Paean to Panera

Writers seem to be very particular about where they write. Some of my friends in the Class of 2k9 have some very interesting locales: one writes in bed, because as a child she spent two years on a boat and did her homework in the fo’cas’le. Another friend writes in a tree house. Then there is the time-honored tradition of writing in cafes. I love to write in cafes. I find the background of conversational hum helps me focus. I am away from phones, laundry, dishes–all the things that provide excellent procrastination excuses. I particularly like writing at my local Panera bread company. I am a total convert from that, ahem, other cafe that has spread across the country from Seattle.

Why Panera? Several reasons. I don’t drink coffee. I drink tea with milk in it, no sugar. I like black tea. That’s it. Not green. Not white. Not herbal. At home, I buy Tetley British Blend, though I sometimes splurge on Twinings English Breakfast or I really splurge on PG Tips, which a friend of mine from England introduced me to. Panera carries English Breakfast tea. Perfect. They used to have a English breakfast decaf which totally rocked my world–I can’t do too much caffine–but that seems to have not rocked anyone else’s world, so now I’m stuck with decaf. Earl Grey in the evenings. And they offer a bottomless cup of tea! Not everyone does, you know.

There is also the music. While I appreciate the competition’s choices of music at times, for writing, the classical and jazz they play at Panera is perfect. It adds to the conversational hum without me getting distracted by words. I like to sing out loud. Not good when I’m trying to describe a mountain scape or a dryad or a centaur.

Then there’s the fireplace. Ok, it’s gas, but it does add an element of coziness.

Then there’s the soup. I love soup. It’s all about coziness again. They have great soups. I prefer the black bean, but the chicken tortilla is pretty good too.

But the piece de resistance is the Free WiFi. Free Wi. Fi. Why wouldn’t every single cafe in the world offer free wifi? The place is filled with people on laptops! Drinking tea (ok, maybe coffee too) and eating soup. That was the kicker for me. The other place wants you to pay for WiFi. No wonder they’re closing down their stores!

Oh yes–and LOADS of outlets all around the walls. That’s another feature that you can’t find everywhere. I can always plug in when the battery is getting low.

I have to write at a desk or table. I know this isn’t very interesting or romantic, but my shoulder and neck start to hurt if I sit in an easy chair wtih my computer on my lap. (Ah, yes, aging is not pretty…) But though I almost never write on my lap, I’m devoted to my lap top. I avoid the desk top we have at home. In fact, I get my lap top as part of my job and if I ever quit, I think I’m going to have to buy this one. It’s not special, it’s not a mac–which everyone assures me I would vastly prefer–but we’ve been through a lot together, me and this dell, and I just don’t want to have to say goodbye.

I should say that I tend to get very loyal to various establishments. I am completely devoted to my supermarket–to the point that I point out all the ShopRite tractor trailers on the highways to my family. (They’re used to me.) And guess what? My ShopRite is in the same plaza as my Panera!

Of course, this is being composed at my Panera. I even know some of the guys who work here. One of them was once wearing a name badge giving his name as Indigo Montoya. Need I say more? (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, it is high time you went out and bought The Princess Bride. Don’t even bother renting. You’ll love it.)

There is one downside to Free WiFi: I need to do some writing now, which means I need to sign off without checking any of my three e-mail addresses, without reading any of my two yahoo-groups, without checking facebook or reading any more blogs. Supreme self-control. That’s what it will take. But I’m writing a cool scene between Glynholly and Abisina right now, so here it goes….

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~ by ellenjensenabbott on January 29, 2009.

3 Responses to “Paean to Panera”

  1. Good seeing you at the musical last night. I am devoted to that other cafe, as I don’t like the lattes at Panera. But I totally agree about ShopRite. They really support the community … donate food to many organizations, employ people with mental illness and disabilities, and more. I try to shop there as much as possible. And the prices are great, too. Oh, and the produce. I’ve been getting the most delicious strawberries to put in Emily’s and my morning oatmeal … but this is a blog about writing, not food. Right?

    • Food and writing–unextricably linked! It was great to see you, too. Keep me posted about WC Public Library! I love the feel of that library and have gotten some great tips on good reading from librarians there. Blood Red Horse was one both my son and I enjoyed.

  2. This must be the WCPike Panera you are takling about!! I love that place and just ate there yesterday evening! It’s great!

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