Wednesday, March 16, 2011
The Buck Stops Here
I've been a bag of nerves for a little over a week now and this morning, decided to add jittery on top of jittery with a nice grande iced Caramel Macchiato from that gleaming beacon of green and white hope dotting neighborhood blocks everywhere- Starbucks.
The bus wasn't even midway to my job yet and already I had gulped down half the glass. Normally coffee and caffeine in general doesn't do much for me. I have this rare gift of being able to sleep whenever, however, and do it at the drop of a hat no matter how much I try to pump myself up to stay awake (unless I'm going to a city I like or a bookstore...no sleep tonight with those places). This morning though, a strange thing happened. My fraying nerves connected to the java hot-wired through my body for an electric charge. ZING! POP! BOOSH! I was awake! I was rip ready roaring to go at 7am! Back off world 'cause I, in my roasted coffee bean armor, can take ya on!
In the movie Alfie, the main character Alfie describes his pretty and reckless girlfriend Nikki as going through "major highs and manic lows." All par for the course with how I felt in the span of 15 minutes that would continue to translate for the entire day. Much of my jitterbugness is stemming from the fact that by Friday, I will hear back from a cause-marketing company I've gone on not one but two interviews for. The first interview was a smashing success and felt perfectly natural whereas the second one was grueling and had me physically exhausted afterward. Evaluating the second interview in my head as impartially as possible, I felt it did go well in theory. I answered every question as truthfully and honestly as possible. I dressed nicely (if you know me though, this is nothing new). I gave it my all and more but once I got outside, I felt a weight fell off of my shoulders and a new one get tossed on. The weight of worry if they want me on their team. I fear my age is too young, I don't have enough experience, that they want someone who is older, wiser. I might be young and tech-savvy, but is it enough? My own self is my worst critic and she wishes I could have done more sooner, earlier, and faster. We all have to start somewhere, sometime, don't we?
So with coffee fueling me, I think about this position. Everything will change for me no matter what the decision is. Yes. No. One syllable and I'm a new girl. I can have it all or I can lose it all. I can rebuild myself anew or continue working on the foundation already in place. I wish I could see both versions of this Heather by brain is slowly working on, but I won't be able to. One syllable and I'm a new girl.
The coffee kicks in further and my right-sided brain starts to hop all over the place. You should blog! it excitedly jabs at me, write it out! Don't go to work today, get off at the next stop, go home, and write!
Ahem, the left side of my brain taps me with a pencil, listen to your The Royal Tenenbaums soundtrack instead. It puts you in a peaceful mood.
I put on the soundtrack and consider blogging these thoughts, this moment. The Starbucks needs to be tied in somehow but not in a "running out of ideas" way like that episode of Sex and the City when Carrie isn't dating any new guys and is going to write her column for the week comparing men to socks. Better than the week before when finding the perfect man is compared to finding delicious French fries (the ever-faithful Charlotte pipes up that that particular piece was "cute!"). This segue-ways into me thinking about how much I wanted to be Carrie when I was applying to college and at the time on the East Coast track...which leads to me remembering college and the dorm life...which leads to me thinking about if 111 Archer Avenue is a real place in New York...which leads to the bus announcing my stop and me getting off with the thought of the job coming back. It's so strange how when I daydream, I go from thought to thought only much later in the day to arrive to my first thought which feels so long ago, it's like I never dwelled on it at all.
Oh, that crazy hoppin' coffee bean effect on me.
The effect of the coffee begins to wear off at about 10am, but until that moment, I am wrapped in its roasted aroma embrace. It's a feeling I've known and been close to for years.
I am not a Starbucks snob. I drink coffee from other establishments as well, though not as often. Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf very, very rarely. Peet's in the summer, and especially in San Francisco where I feel it is more appropriate to sip (don't ask me why). Panera Bread, from my 3.5 year stint of working as a barista there, often with carefully hidden cups of various brews I created out of boredom strategically dotting the store where I knew no one would find them and throw my treasures out. While I enjoy coffee from many a shop, Starbucks has held me captive since childhood. It was those green straws, tucked into their little clear cups with the mermaid on the outside. I would see them, see the people drinking them, and would fall in love with the image of being a grown-up I saw reflected back onto me. Someday, the younger version of me rhapsodized, I will wear red lipstick, heels that clack with every step, a full skirt, and carry a pretty pocketbook. I will live in a beautiful apartment in a bustling city and smell of roses with good manners given to all. I will write all day and have a wonderful job. I will be like Audrey Hepburn, those Parisian girls in the pictures in my magazines, and Samantha Parkington from the American Girl series all rolled up into one. And I will drink coffee from Starbucks, like a true grown up lady.
My younger self would have been a perfect focus group participant for this company.
One afternoon, in my preteens, I was at the Barnes and Noble with my Mom, just another lazy Saturday of reading piles of books until the store closed. Or it would have been if my Dad went with me. My Mom didn't care for bookstores much and was always in a hurry to leave them and go somewhere else instead. Book in hand, I headed to the cash register while she waited for me outside. As I was about to grasp the exit door handle to leave, I saw the the straight open aisle by the magazine racks leading to a Starbucks. Here, inside my bookstore! (These cafes wouldn't become more frequented until 2004, when the Wi-Fi option was added).
I checked myself out. Okay, so I might have been 11 and wearing all of the typical popular garb of the time (check it: glittery rose shirt, linen pants, Sketchers, and a million of those butterfly hair clips, I. Was. Awesome.), but still, I wanted to try Starbucks and begin that road to adulthood, paved with early elegance!
Only, here's the best part, I chickened out on ordering a coffee beverage.
"One small, I mean tall vanilla bean blended cream!" I proudly ordered. I wondered if the girl behind the counter knew this was my first visit. Can you tell just by looking at people that they're about to try drinking out of those slender green straws for the first time ever? Perhaps not. We all have to begin our journey somewhere and this would be my beginning (with an actual coffee drink purchased later that year). Later on, I would learn how to make these drinks and be able to foam a cappuccino properly, substitute the right amount of soy milk, and create aesthetically pleasing hot chocolate in a mug for even the most subjective coffee drinkers.
Though I go many places and will continue to, my dear Starbucks goes with me. It's familiar green and white slogan comforts me because I know where I am, no matter how new the land may be, I'm still connected to this place, the one I started with even though I didn't know how to order sizes properly. And even though I'm slowly working on becoming my younger self's version of Audrey/Samantha with a side of Carrie Bradshaw for good measure, I'm still learning just to order that type of life for myself. One green straw and I'm a girl who is both old and new.
A girl who is both yes and no.
And good to the last drop.
Love to you all,