3.27.2006

Pondering

I always wonder what a celebrity would look like if they weren't so famous.

And then sometimes I wonder what I would look like if I were a celebrity.

3.22.2006

Florida Trip

Matt and I spent most of last week in Florida. It's always great to go anywhere in which colonial architecture is not the norm (or the "only"). And I get excited when I see palm trees because I've never lived anywhere in which palm trees were a normal part of the scenery.

While we were there we also fed alligators, saw Shamu, and drank from the Fountain of Youth. How could that not be an awesome vacation?

Mini Dreams

Sometimes, right before I fall asleep, I get these weird mini dream images. They only last for about 5 seconds, maybe less. I probably don't remember all of them because I probably fall asleep before I get a chance to remember. But sometimes they cause me to completely snap out of my sleepy haze. Anyway, here are some of the ones I remember.

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First...
This one came to me as I nodded off during a 10th grade biology class (dont judge... during my high school years class was about the only place I got any sleep.)

There was an average European cobblestone road. To the side of the road was a sidewalk made out of this yellowish stone. And then right in the middle of the sidewalk, for no apparent reason, was a staircase leading down into total blackness. I was standing with my toes just hanging over the edge of the first staircase. For some reason I decided to go down, but instead of walking down the steps, I just leaned forward like I was going to dive.

Next...
This one happened about a month or two after I started working at Starbucks. I was at a friend's house after working late one night, we were probably watching a movie or something.

I was at work, behind the espresso bar, pulling shots as usual. Except this time I after I pulled 2 shots instead of pouring them into a starbucks cup, I poured them into a glass that had a huge strawberry in it. Which I didn't think would taste very good.

Then...
This one occured right as I was falling asleep when I was a freshman at mary washington college.

I'm in a typical locker room. The lockers are green and there's a row of wooden benches in front of them. On the bench is a row of 4 or 5 teal green football helmets. At first they are just sitting there and nothing is happening. Then they slowly start to rise about a foot above the bench. Once there, they begin to rotate forward. As they are spinning the helmet second from the left turns into a dolphin. Still the size of the helmet, and still rotating like the other helmets.

Last...
This one occured only a few nights ago as I was about to fall asleep. (notice that as I got older, I started to sleep at appropriate times).

There was an old wooden wall. On the wall is a row of hooks mounted on a more decorative piece of wood that was painted a light pea green color. The hooks are black. I hung a neon pink towel on the hook directly in front of me.

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That's about it. They dont really make any sense (that I can see) but they are interesting images. And the weird thing is that I have them while I am semi-awake. But like I said, they only last for at most 5 seconds. Those are the only one's I remember, I'm sure there have been tons more.

Anyway, I just felt like writing them down while I still remember them.

3.17.2006

College Essay

I just found this essay I wrote for a summer English class in college. The assignment was to write a personal essay. Most people wrote about when their grandmother died, or when their dog died. I chose to write about at typical day at work. I totally thought I had lost this (which I was heartbroken over, especially since I was so good about backing up my papers onto disks... I guess this one slipped through the cracks somehow.) But my mom found it at her house this weekend. YAY! Just to warn you, it's really long, but I'm putting it in here anyway. Enjoy.


Twenty-eight, twenty-nine, thirty. Four thirty... a.m. "Ugh." After I set my alarm clock and turn out my light, I flop into bed. Why me? Why must I work at a store that requires my presence at five o'clock in the morning? Oh wait, that's right, I choose to work there. I choose to get up this early five days a week. No one forces me, I'm just crazy.

My alarm clock goes off the next morning. No, it's too early to call it morning. No one else is awake at this ungodly hour. My mom pokes her head in, "Jessica, it’s 4:30, you need to start getting ready for work." Okay, so my mom is up, but she's not human. She can't be, no one in their right mind would choose to get up this early. I fumble out of bed and put on the same clothes I wore to work yesterday. They reek of coffee and the smell makes me queasy, but I won't notice it for long. Soon it will blend in with all the other nauseating smells at work. I brush my teeth as my eyes slowly adjust to the bathroom lights. Then I splash some water on my face before throwing my hair up in a ponytail. I don’t even bother combing it. I go downstairs, grab my kelly green apron, my purse, and my car keys before mumbling to my mom that I'm leaving. "Okay, I'll be there in a little bit," she responds.

It's now 4:57. It takes me exactly three minutes to drive to work. I don’t have to worry about traffic, red lights, or idiot drivers. It’s too early for that. Occasionally I pass a car or two and wonder about their reason for being awake at this time. I pull into the empty Starbucks parking lot, "where the hell is John?" He's always late. The only reason I don't get too mad is because I need to enjoy my final few minutes of a John-free day. I enter the store and begin the opening procedures. About fifteen minutes later a loud consistent booming coming from the door interrupts me. John. I let him in and he mutters something about "sorry for being late." I mutter something back about "that's okay" and continue with my tasks.

John is the singly largest problem I have with work. He’s probably his mid-thirties and comes from somewhere in South America he calls, "My Country." I haven’t been able to figure out which country this is yet, but apparently they have no Starbucks there. He has a wife, which he does not seem to care too much for. All he has to say about he is that she spends to much money and nags him all the time. He also has a three-year-old daughter, who he still talks about as if she were an infant.

Once, he was about an hour and a half late to work three days in a row because his daughter was so sick. At Least that's what he told me. Then on the fourth day, he called in to tell me that he could not come to work because he needed to take her to the doctor. This may sound cruel, but I told him that if he did not come to work or find someone to cover his shift, I would have to write him up (that's Starbucks talk for "you will be in trouble"). I knew he wasn't telling the truth. And eventually he did end up coming to work that day. Of course he complained to every single person there that I was this awful terrible person, forcing him to choose between his daughter's well being and serving coffee to a bunch of strangers. He even told a fellow Starbuck employee that his daughter had a temperature of 190 degrees all night long. 190 degrees!!! Two important things he didn’t realize: 1- The water we use to brew our coffee only gets to about 180 degrees (which was still hot enough to give me a second degree burn once), and 2- the girl he told this to was in nursing school. She politely asked him if the reason his daughter's temperature was so high was because he had accidentally left her in the microwave. Anyway, needless to say at this point, his excuse was no good. But I have to say that I spontaneously chuckled throughout the rest of the day after hearing that. Actually I think of that story now every time he des something that pisses me off, and it makes me smile.

At 5:30 I unlock the doors to the store and let the customers in. There's always a guy waiting at the door. He comes every morning and gets a Venti Red Eye. We usually don’t exchange very many words other than "good morning" and "thank you." But silently I think we are empathizing with each other for having to be up before the sun is. My mom is usually the next person in. Everyone I work with knows her, and her crazy drink. I keep trying to get her to quit Starbucks. She tries, but it never lasts more than a week or so. Which I don’t understand because she drinks decaf coffee.

After this part of the day, things begin to blur. I'm constantly doing three or four things at a time: brew the coffee, send people on their breaks, take care of the deposit, help the customer. Oh, the costumer; the next problem with my job. Most of them are okay, but a day can’t go by without someone deciding to make themselves feel important by putting down their local barista.

"Excuse me miss, um, there's hardly any milk in my cappuccino. It feels like it's only half way full." Well that's because you're an idiot, I say in my head. Out loud I'm much more polite, and patient.

"Actually ma'am," I reply in the sweetest voice I can stand, "cappuccinos are mostly foam, which is like airy milk. So it's supposed to be lighter. If you want more milk in your drink, you should order a latte next time, they are made with all milk." I already begin making her a new drink, because that's Starbucks policy. If a customer is stupid and orders the wrong drink then complains that it's all your fault, first, apologize profusely for you lack of mind reading ability, and then make a new drink.

"Well how am I supposed to know that? No one told me what it was. But I'm not paying $5 for a half filled drink. That's ridiculous. I mean it's bad enough to charge a fortune for a cup of coffee, but then to only fill it half way... well... that's just unacceptable." She is thoroughly annoyed, but not anywhere near as much as I am.

"I'm sorry ma'am. If you want I can make you a latte now, on the house."

"I don't have time to wait for that. I'm in a hurry. It took me long enough to get this one. I was already late for work before I got here, but now..." Now what? You're really late? Why would you stop if you were already late? This is a common complaint. We get it everyday, especially during rush hour. I think people purposely stop in to a Starbucks when they are late for work. That way, they can show up to their job with a drink in hand and tell their boss, "Sorry I'm late. Those damn people at Starbucks are so slow." Thus removing all blame from themselves.

"It's no trouble ma'am, I have the drink already." I even hand her a free drink coupon, which are only used on special occasions. I'll give one to the truly annoyed customers, with the hopes of smoothing things over. Or I'll give one to the truly kind and patient customers who understand that we baristas are merely human and may make mistakes from time to time. "Here's a free drink coupon for next time. I'm sorry for your troubles. Have a nice day." She grabs the drink and the coupon, ignoring the fact that I have said anything to her and storms off in the same self-centered fury she stormed in with.

Usually a complaint like this is followed by some kind of minor catastrophe: the espresso bar shuts off for no reason, the coffee grinders stop working, or a register blanks out. Now it's time for me to play repairman. Compared to my ability for fixing things at home, I do quite well at work. I usually figure out what caused a machine to breakdown and occasionally I can fix it without any outside help. More often than not, I end up calling the tech support line. They are very friendly, and manage not to treat me like the moron I am when it comes to this sort of thing.

"Hi, I was calling because one of our registers just blacked out for no reason. I've tried rebooting it, but that hasn't work." Rebooting is my answer to every register problem.

"Okay, no problem. I'm just going to take you through this step by step, so make sure you are on a phone that is close to the register. First, I need you to open the front flap of the register. This should expose three wires." The person at the other end of the line has the cheeriest voice I have ever heard. They must not have ever worked the retail end of Starbucks.

"I see three wires. One green, one yellow, and one black," I respond.

"Alright, now you need to unplug each one and blow on the end of it. This should remove any dust, which may be blocking the connection, resulting in the blank screen." So I stand there, in front of all the customers and other employees, unplugging cords and blowing on the end of them. I plug all three back in, and ding, the register turns on.

"Okay, that worked. It's back on now." I feel dumb. "Thanks so much for helping." I hope my face isn’t too red at this point.

"Sure no problem. You might want to do this on a more regular basis to prevent it from happening at inconvenient times." I hang up the phone and resume my previous activity, hoping no one noticed what had just happened.

"Wow Jess, blowing on the end of wires. That's real technical. Good thing we have someone as smart as you working here. I don’t know how we would have gotten through it otherwise." I spin around and see Ashley standing behind me, giggling as always. Somehow she manages to always have a smile on her face, no matter what's happening at work. And when something even slightly funny happens, she will laugh about it for hours, usually longer. She's one of the few people I love working with.

"Ashley, could you sample out some banana bread? It's piling up in the backroom and we need t get rid of it somehow." She immediately grabs a loaf of bread and start cutting it up into cute little sample sizes.

"Sometimes in our lives, we all have pain, we all have sorrows," she sings softly as she works.

"But if we are wise, we know that there's always tomorrow." I join in. We spend the next hour or so singing that song over and over again as we work. She ever teaches me goofy hand motions her and some of her friends made up once. We get a lot of weird looks from customers, and other workers. Maybe it's immature and unprofessional, but it gets us through the day.

Finally my shift comes to an end. I close my till, count the safe to make sure nothing happened to the money while I was working, and take off my coffee stained apron. As I walk out of the store, I turn around and yell, "I'm outta here guys. Have a good afternoon, see ya tomorrow."

3.10.2006

Awesome Things From This Week

  1. Monday's episode of 24. Well, first of all it was awesome because they actually had 2 episodes on back to back. And I think this week was the turning point in the show. I mean, up to this point, the season had only been okay, there were just a few too many fluff episodes for my taste... but now they are starting to get back into stuff that makes 24 so unique. Though I have to admit the ending was sooooo depressing (Edgar dies *tear*), that I had to watch something funny and light afterwards. (apparently i'm not the only one who cares that Edgar is dead, as Entertainment Weekly has a Fauxbituary for him). But I'm definitely looking forward to the rest of the season.
  2. Project Runway finale. YAY FOR CHLOE. She was awesome. Though if I am perfectly honest, my favorite outfit was actually a dress from Santino's collection. It was the first one down the runway, a pink evening gown thing... anyway, probably one of the very few things from the entire show I'd actually wear. But I still think overall that Chloe was consistently the best designer throughout the whole show. So i'm glad she won.
  3. Strep. Okay, so i barely survived the Flu Season (which, by the way, better be over), just in time for Strep Season. So far every single one of my piano students has been sick with the flu, and 2 of the little germ breeders came down with strep this week... I know it's only a matter of time before I get sick. I just wish I could hurry up and get it over with. Why didnt anyone warn me that the piano teaching hazard posed such a threat to my health. I used to NEVER get sick... I mean maybe like once every 2 or 3 years. But in the less than 2 years that I've worked with kids, I've been sick like 2 or 3 times. (NOTE: this is only awesome in a sarcastic way)
  4. Noodles. I've had vietnamese noodles 3 times this week... yum yum.
  5. Class schedule. The library school finally posted their summer and fall class schedules (I just found it today). Now I at least have some kind of idea about what my life will be like for the remainder of the year. I think I can sum it up in one word too... STUDY.
  6. Battlestar Galactica finale. This is on tonight, so I havent watched it yet. But i'm hoping it goes back to the good story lines and not the fluff Let's-Get-To-Really-Know-the-Troubles-of-the-Crew stuff. I'm okay with hints of that throughout a show, but I want the major plot line to be just that... a major plot line.
  7. Beautiful weather today. I took Eve for a couple extra walks.
  8. No pain. Well i've kinda been hinting that I have a problem with my shoulder due to piano related activity. Truth is that I have rotator cuff tendinosis (which my doctor described as a chronic degeneration of the tendons in my rotator cuff). Which is an overuse injury that I've had since my last semester in college (though it took me forever to actually go to a doctor about it because the only injury I was aware of was tendinitis which I was 100% positive I didnt have, so for the longest time I thought it was in my head... you know, some sort of subconcious effort to let myself out of piano). Anyway, I went through like 3 months of physical therapy last year, had a cortizone shot (which I recommend NEVER doing), and MRIs and all that stuff, but nothing helped (even though at first my doctor was 99% confident that 1 month of therapy would make me as good as new). So since November I havent played piano or really done much with my arm at all, in an effort to let my tendons heal. A few weeks ago I started doing some light exercises, and then 2 weeks ago I started playing a little piano again (like 3 days a week for no more than 20 minutes). And so far, no pain. Let's hope this keeps up, especially since I've done this routine before and somehow the pain always seems to come back eventually. Damn you Non So Pui Cosa Son (I'm convinced that's the song that started this whole thing... though it may also have something to do with the overly curved structure that is my backbone)
  9. I'M GOING TO FLORIDA ON SUNDAY!! yay yay