Tag Archives: coffee

Clay the Starbucks Guy Did Not Ruin My Life.

photo courtesy of wikipedia

photo courtesy of wikipedia

I was standing in line at Starbucks yesterday. My mental state was not good. In fact, it was poor. I hadn’t had time to put on deodorant because I was afraid of missing the train. Instead, I shoved it in my bag and then forgot about putting it on anyways. And I’d forgotten to use my ear eczema lotion. And I hadn’t had time to moisturize. So things were not good.

I was wearing uncomfortable shoes and after I caught the train I was afraid of missing, I’d ended up arriving twenty minutes early to my destination. Three miles away from me, on the floor in my room was the cup of coffee I hadn’t had time to drink. Everything was terrible so I decided to take the twenty minutes I had and walk to the Starbucks that I thought was five minutes away.

But it was not five minutes away, it was a ten minutes away. Seven minutes in to the journey, I was starting to sweat and my mental state – already fragile – nose dived (or nose doved – not sure what the correct phrase is here.) I remember speaking out loud, “Please. Please. Please,” willing the Starbucks to appear earlier to relieve my anguish. It was sad. What seemed like hours later, I arrived at the Starbucks, my neurons panting for caffeine.

There was a line. “That’s okay,” I tried to tell myself, “It’ll go fast.” Unfortunately this was not one of those uber-efficient financial district Starbucks, where employees have been choreographed to move through dozens of customers in five minutes with robot-like precision. This was a tourist Starbucks, and people had questions about the menu and time to debate over whether they wanted the pumpkin bread with cream cheese or the pumpkin scone.

There were only two people in front of me but it felt like an entire lifetime passed as they debated endlessly and pathetically over what kind of baked good they wanted to order, who they wanted to be when they grew up, how the family was doing.

Behind them a storm was gathering in my mind. I was summoning all the forces of darkness, all the black magic in the world to will them to finish their order and get their coffee, or perish. My hair grew long and wicked and floated up behind me as I grew fangs and my fingernails became yellow and razor sharp. I was ready to bring the reckoning and I knew who was at fault. It was Clay, the Starbucks employee. If he could just go a little faster then everything would be okay, but he was willfully and defiantly lethargic and the source of all terrible things in the universe and the gross black stuff that grows on my kitchen faucet.

Just as I was getting ready to be rude to him and/or cause him physical harm, I had a moment of clarity.

Wait a second, I thought. It’s not Clay’s fault that I was unprepared for today. It’s not his fault my armpits are stinking and my back is sweating. He didn’t choose the shoes I’m wearing or my career path. In fact, Clay has nothing to do with my anger or my life or my long, dark, wicked hair. He’s just here.

If I were in a better mood, nothing would be wrong. Even the colors would be brighter and the tourists’ inane conversation would be charming, possibly exciting. I am the problem.

Whoahhhhhh.

With that in mind, the voodoo winds died down, my fingernails and teeth changed back to normal, I took a deep breath and forced a smile to my face.

“Medium coffee please – could you put some hot water in the bottom of it and leave room at the top for cream?”

Everything was going to be okay.

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It’s Not a Cafe, It’s Tart to Tart

imageThere’s a place near me in the Inner Sunset called Tart to Tart. It’s a bakery/coffee place/Mexican food distributor (kind of.)

Nothing cool has happened here in years. Maybe nothing cool has ever happened here. I don’t know how long this place has been open, but I do remember seeing it the first time I came to San Francisco. I was walking along Irving street in January 2012 and I saw this place and I thought to myself, “That looks so cute.” But I didn’t know anything then, even about the things I thought I knew something. About those things I was especially ignorant.

Tart to Tart is not cute. It’s not adorable, or whimsical. All cuteness about it stops at the name. Keep in mind that I’m speaking only of the Inner Sunset location, and not about any other one. Nowadays I don’t talk so much about things I don’t know, or at least I try to avoid it.

Tart to Tart is a place of supreme function. It stretches out behind its windows into a dark, cave-like interior where all the furniture wobbles and has either been here a long time or was purchased second-hand. Students can camp out here safely. Old friends meet and talk and see other people they know. They say hello and describe the road trip they just took through Utah, Arizona, Nevada, and some other places.

There are no pretensions here. If you have pretensions, they will be ignored. Maybe that makes it a place where you’re safe from the person you pretend to be sometimes, and that’s kind of nice.

This is a place to come if you love coffee so much you don’t care what it tastes like, where you like looking at pastries almost as much as eating a pastry that actually tastes good, where you don’t mind a bathroom that reminds you of gas stations in middle America. Even the word cafe doesn’t really fit – it’s just Tart to Tart, a place you go when you need to go somewhere. That’s all.

Bring cash if you’re buying something that costs less than $3. Or maybe it’s $5. Just bring some cash. It’s the right thing to do.

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I’m Addicted to Coffee but I Wouldn’t Dream of Changing

coffee

coffee coffee coffee

What is dependency? What is addiction? If I can’t force myself to leave the house without the promise of coffee, is that a problem? If I buy more than one, sometimes more than two, and rarely but not too rarely more than three coffees a day, is that really so terrible? Is it childlike and irresponsible, or is it supremely adultlike and admirable?

If I, after arriving in Boston (the city of my alma mater and priceless collegiate memories), think only of bed and of ending everything because there is no coffee in the house and the nearest coffee shop is across a bridge and through the rain, what does that mean?

My brain is made up of chemicals. My body is an assemblage of elements and amino acids. My hair is a collection of grease, sweat, and whatever kind of weird shampoo I used this morning. Also, it is made of keratin. But my heart is made of coffee. It is coffee that runs through my veins and brings light into the world.

Entire worldviews have shifted because of caffeine-deprivation. Wars have started and / or ended because of the magic bean. And it is the magic bean.

Oh coffee, you make my heart beat faster. You make my veins constrict and make it difficult to focus and my hands shake. You open up entire worlds of possibilities and the ability to love. You make it possible to run across freeways in the sun and find shelter in the rain.

I think I’m addicted, but I don’t want to be any other way.

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Hello Styrofoam. I Think You’re Trying to Kill Me but I’ll Still Drink Coffee Out of You.

Styrofoam

Styrofoam

Before I start, let me be clear that I know nothing about styrofoam and its affect on my health. Everything I know about styrofoam comes from whatever liberal pseudo-science they put in the water in San Francisco and something my babysitter said to me when I was in 5th grade about how microwaving styrofoam can give you cancer. Since then, I’ve researched and learned nothing.

That said, styrofoam was a part of my childhood. I ate school lunches off of it, microwaved leftovers on it, and drank all kinds of beverages from it. I once tore up a styrofoam cup and put it in a shoebox for the famed engineering challenge of creating an egg crate that would protect an egg from a 20 foot drop. Styrofoam did not work, but it sure was staticky.

I moved to San Francisco about two years ago and had kind of forgotten about styrofoam. It’s banned from restaurants in San Francisco and styrofoam cups, plates, and trays are a rarity. Through an assimilation process that’s been going on since my arrival, I’ve gradually learned to associate styrofoam with Bible thumping conservatives, anti-education monsters, and death. At no point was any of this directly said to me. It’s just what happens when you’re in San Francisco long enough and drink enough locally roasted coffee (from ceramic cups of course.)

Now that I’m traveling in areas that are not protected from styrofoam, I’ve started using it again. I drink coffee from it and I want to say that everything’s fine, and that nothing has changed and I’m still the same woman from Oklahoma who doesn’t care about cancer caused by heating up styrofoam but I’m not and I do.

I think the styrofoam is probably killing me. I think it makes the coffee taste weird and dissolves into it when the coffee is too hot, and then those styrofoam molecules turn into cancer in my body that can activate at any point. I’m afraid of the styrofoam cup but I’m more afraid of how terrible I’ll feel if I don’t take coffee to go from breakfast. It’s a choice of two evils, and one promises death in the future, and the other promises a nasty headache until dinner.

I think the correct path is clear.

So I’m on to you styrofoam. I know you’re trying to kill me but you won’t get me before I flee back to my Bay Area styrofoam free sanctuary. Until then, I’ll see you for breakfast.

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10 Valuable Lessons I Learned Today that I’ll Probably Relearn Tomorrow

coffee spilling

                                                                    the worst thing in the world

They say you learn something new every day, and that’s partially true. What’s more true is that as you learn something new every day, you also re-experience the agony of about 10 lessons you already knew that haven’t sunk in yet. Here are just a few of the ones I went through again today.

1. Leave more room than you think you’ll need in your coffee cup. Otherwise, it will overflow when you add milk like it did yesterday and the 363 days before that.

2. When in doubt while hiking in the Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield Park near Marietta, GA, bear left on all the trail forks. That way you won’t end up having to trespass on a country-dweller’s land just to get back to the road where you’ll end up walking an extra 2 miles on a sidewalk-less highway in the sun with a dog with a death wish.

3. Don’t bring a house dog to do a woman’s hike. Some labradoodles aren’t meant to do more than 15 minutes of light jogging in the shade and will try to throw themselves under cars if made to walk more than 30 minutes.

4. If it takes more than one minute to open up the hot fudge jar, it means you’re not meant to have any. Don’t treat it like a physical challenge and then decide after finally opening the jar that it’s not good enough. Especially don’t spend another minute opening up a different jar of a different brand of hot fudge.

5. Don’t decide to write a one act, four part radio play about the Civil War to act out by yourself in the basement. You’ll just end up overwhelming yourself and then taking a nap.

6. Don’t try to impress your friends by using sophisticated terms to critique the improv show you saw together since you’ve taken some improv classes and know a thing or two. No one cares about whether or not the “players” made “strong choices” with “solid edits” or had “authentic relationships.” They just want to talk about what made them laugh.

7. The next time your suggestion is chosen at an improv show and the douchebag in front of you tries to give a different one, avoid yelling “SHUT IT” in his face. It’s not very endearing, and you don’t need to stoop to his level.

8. Gloating is never a good look, and doing fist pumps after the restaurant manager says he’ll give you half off is tacky. Wait until after you’ve left the restaurant to celebrate.

9. Don’t get yourself into a one-upping texting situation without an exit strategy. Say hahaha and leave it at that.

10. Don’t honk back at someone who honks at you because you made a driving error and it’s clearly your fault. Do something else, like swear in your car.

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