Every morning, Chase leaves me a mug of cinnamon tea, a ritual I didn’t trust in the hands of my ex-partners, although I’ve since learned the best way to invite others into your ritualistic space is to design back-up, solo rituals for when they forget to part-take in a process that helps stabilize my sensory and socio-emotionally sensitive world.
My Morning Cinnamon Tea Ritual
Chase wakes at 6am, leaves at 7am, then at 8am, I clamor out of bed like an over-sized sloth, short-person-hulking my way towards my mug of tea on the kitchen counter; this tea is the way Chase says, “Good morning, I love you,” even though we’re separated by a stretch of time. He’s a temporal magician. Creations have a certain magic to them that speech lacks, like writing, art, tea brewing. Now every time I make tea for myself, I can hear the echo of his I love you, love you.
The Cajoling of Muses
While I’ve tried to wake up with my fiance, my creativity spikes at night;
And it takes quite a bit of cajoling my Writing Muse to coax her close;
So on a weekday, rather than diving recklessly into writing stories, I often begin the morning gardening, recording cats and flowers with my iPhone, then uploading videos or photography to Instagram.
Or I’ll approach the morning cautiously by meditating, pre-writing, and browsing my Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Tumblr feeds.
Sometimes, I’ll charge into the day like a 🦆ing bull, self-advocating for autistic people through this blog, or by answering questions on Quora, as well as adding comments to autism-based Internet articles, at least until the anti-vaxx trolls move in;
Or I’ll lean into my grading, preparing curriculum, pruning;
Until late morning comes, when I need another cup of tea.
Then I brew a second cup to keep my Muse-cajoling fresh, and if I think I’m about to break through to some good ideas, I’ll brew the third cup too, so I can bring both of them to my desk…
Until, at last, I click-click-click to the top of the track, so I can fall into the rollercoaster worlds my Muses and I create in close proximity.
I may have to play with cats, have intellectual debates with my parrots, doodle with ink, stim, sing, or read to bring my Muse out on her more stubborn days.
Sometimes I don’t start creative writing until 2pm. Or until after dinner. And I don’t go to bed until I’ve written at least 1K words with deep, expressive intention, because as far as I’m concerned, I was born to write this way.
How Writing Prepares Me for the Morning
On the days I go to bed without writing, I don’t sleep as well. I don’t like it. When I sacrifice my creative writing long-term, my health dwindles. Depression returns like a deep darkness at the base of my spine.
I’ve been writing at night to relax since the upper grade of elementary school, although originally, the word count I sought was lighter, freer, like a 100-word poem or a diary.
[ handwritten diary entry ]
It’s felt difficult juggling 2-3 part-time jobs simultaneously, ever since my body woke to the joy of writing again. It worked when I had a full-time job, but only when the job involved writing: copywriter; copyeditor; community manager (writer-of-all-trades); associate editor (slush-pile reader); ghost editor. Although admittedly, even those felt limiting compared to this;
This is the joyous work that brings me peace.
On an excellent day, I’ll produce 4-6K words, then sleep like a baby; on an average day, I’ll write 2K-3K words, and I’ll dream vividly about the unwritten stories. This writing is stretched thinly across:
- a short story of a dragon in a swap-meet,
- a science fiction romance novella about a cyborg and a doppelganger,
- a futuristic fantasy novel about a half-god and the same doppelganger,
- and this week specifically, a sci-fi screenplay about a machine that “cures” autism,
- as well as many blog posts that explored deeper than the initial, surface-level topic I approached, like quicksand pulling me in, like an unexpected but welcome journey into new rooms in my mind, dusty doors left closed.
I’m more interested in the release of words—the sometimes forced, always necessary purge of self-expression, the writing process—than I am in finishing projects, although I’ve learned if I ever want to finish projects (and of course I do!) I need to limit myself to only one project per medium.
After I publish this blog post, I intend to finish the screenwriting project, for one thing. But first, I’m going to make myself some iced cinnamon tea…
From Sleep to Waking
Because of my sleeping issues, I only get 5-6 hours a night, leaving cookie crumbs of Goodreads quotes across the Internet, waiting for my Kindle to lull me to bed, then waking up in 2-3 hour intervals, tossing and turning, my stomach often sloshing between ill and well.
I think the stress and anxiety that keeps me up is directly tied to the amount of writing I accomplish; to put it another way, whether or not I’m releasing or bottling the day’s emotions—communicating what needs to be said.
Some nights, I sleep 3-3, others, 2-3, and still others, 2-2-2;
And on a 2-2-2 night, I dream very vividly;
Then the dreams linger on the edge of my mind as I open my eyes, slap clumsy bare feet on our wooden bedroom floor, then waddle into the kitchen, waiting for my body to reconnect, my senses to balance, knowing everything will soon feel like I’m a separate and individual person, not like this dreamy floating thing.
That’s the scatterbrain feeling I’m often sorting out when I walk up to the cup of tea Chase brewed, an hour or two chilled—God, I love cinnamon tea at room temperature!—and I stand there, sipping, wondering if my fiance is having a good day.
If he forgot to brew tea, I brew it myself and resume the ritual of sending him positive thoughts, sipping, watching the cats play on the catio from the kitchen window.
I’d like to elaborate more on how cinnamon tea helps with my digestion, as well as anchors ritual within my work space; so I’ll extend this post into another 3-part narrative; but those will be postponed till May, since I have another 3-part series already starting tomorrow.
I thought it important to express how this tea establishes the mood of my day; it’s an anchor for my mind. Rituals are an enormous part of living joyfully with autism, and I plan to explore that more. Until then… We’ll leave it at how good sleep, and good tea, make the morning right. ☕
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Kourtnie has an MFA in Creative Writing from CSU Fresno and a BA in English from CSU Fullerton. When she isn't writing or making art, she's moonlighting as a professor at community colleges. Read her writing at Kourtnie.net or Wattpad.com/user/KourtnieNet.