On first impression, Sabor y Cultura is pleasantly spacious and invitingly friendly. Surprisingly, decidedly not too cool. (The walls remind me of mid 90s kids’ bedrooms. Bright orange and purple and yellow – SPONGE PAINTED.) I have been to other LA coffee shops that are intimidating. Where I felt like my creative creds were not quite up to par, even to order a latte to-go. Where people look up when you walk in, with appraising stares and hungry eyes. I suspect they are hoping something in your looks will inspire a character. But today we have the correct props. Flimsy LA scarf. Macbook. Moleskine notebooks. Digital SLR camera. We are going native.
I prefer my laptop to live up to its name - to be atop my lap. Conveniently this makes for a better people watching angle, but unfortunately the scene is not living up to my Hollywood expectations. There are lots of laptops but not much "serious writing." Not many tortured souls who look like they haven’t slept in weeks. Not much shop talk. Instead, there are a few people skyping. A healthy dose of facebooking. Both ends of the educational spectrum (paper grading and studying). Sporadic reading and typing. And some who are really here for coffee and conversation. It is just a regular indie coffee shop.
But even without those inspiring Hollywood writerly figures, the coffee shop peer pressure is working more than I expected. I’ve always been the type who tried to shut myself away when I want to work. Extreme un-fun work time, which makes me compensate with major detours that ruin me (watching Elf, making a sandwich I'm not hungry for, endless loops between Gmail and Etsy.) But the coffee shop gives me the perfect degree of distraction to keep me moving. There’s just enough overheard chatter and barista clattering to fill my lulls in thinking and doing, but not enough to completely capture my attention for good.
I'm finally catching on to what everyone else already knows about coffee shops. They pull off a pretty neat trick - making solitary work feel like passively social fun. I'm not slaving away alone. We are all reading and writing and clicking and staring together, so it's ok. So I don't feel oppressed by my blank new Word doc. And I don't feel alone with an agonizing to-do list. But no, I really don't want to talk to anyone. Passively social is just fine with me.