Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Kim Kardashian is a piece of shit, and other non-news

I don't seek out celebrity "news," but it is everywhere. It permeates all forms of media from the gossip rags to the boob tube, and I typically get more than my share of information this way. While standing in line at the CVS, I read the tabloid headlines and I have been known to read People magazine in waiting rooms. I am neither immune to it nor highly involved in it, but when I hear of something that pisses me off enough, it becomes my cause.

I was listening to the local pop station in the car because my mp3 player was dead. The DJ announced that at 1:10 she was going to tell us listeners "another reason to hate Kim Kardashian." Okay, I could always use a reason to feel better about myself through hearing about how vapid, vain, and shallow the skinny, rich debutantes on TV are. I figured this would be along the lines of Paris Hilton's almost-cutely-naive "what's a Wal-Mart?" antics.

Here it is [via Twitter, a.k.a. celebrities' forum for saying fucked up shit]: "EWW Im at lunch,the woman at the table next 2 me is breast feeding her baby w no coverup."

After facing criticism for her comments, Kim defended them by saying that it was not the breastfeeding (because it was "beautiful and natural" when her sister did it for her child), but mostly the fact that the woman was exposing herself in public.

Okay, so let me get this straight. Kim "lookatme" Kardashian, a "socialite" (who, in other words, is a famous person who does nothing besides get her picture taken and make sex tapes), feels that it's WRONG for this mother to expose her breasts in public.

Kim Kardashian, who regularly exposes her cleavage with the intention of arousing viewers' sexual appetites, says "EWW" to the lady who dares to use those parts of her body for their intended purpose.

Kim Kardashian, a one-time Playboy model who celebrates and condones the sexualization of her baby-makin', baby-growin', baby-feedin' body parts, finds it offensive that this woman's baby was EATING LUNCH IN A RESTAURANT.

Kim Kardashian who, when asked why she was famous responded with, "Because I have a big, fat ass," has decided to tackle a politicized issue. And, although her feelings on the subject only go as deep as what makes her enjoy or not enjoy her lunch (paid for by either one of her athlete boyfriends or last month's pin-up shoot), there are enough people willing to listen that her remarks became national news whether or not she can put a sentence together.

Perhaps if I lose 50 pounds and make a sex tape four million followers will listen to what I have to say too.

Perhaps this is really what it takes for a woman to be valued in society.

My sincere hope is that one day Kimmy K. will be out somewhere with her infant child, long after her fifteen minutes are up, when her body is a tad less desirable to the general public. She will get out her "cover up" to feed her baby, and some young starlet will turn up her nose in disgust because she feels no one should take out her breasts unless she happens to be busty, slender, greased up, and in front of a camera. Because that's totally "natural."

I hate lifting stuff, my boyfriend has a cankle, and other problems

I have been M.I.A. for a while because I have been concentrating on moving, which I did a couple of weekends ago, and have not had internet because we’re waiting for a visit from the cable company and a wireless router to ship. It may be of interest to know that my boyfriend and I moved into a third floor apartment…while the old tenant was still technically living there. Moving (and all the things that go with it) sucks. It’s not only a physically taxing process, but a disorienting one as well. A place that was once home becomes an empty shell, even if it exists in the mind exactly as it was. It is a reminder that nothing is ever permanent or solid. I have moved at least once a year since I finished high school, and the constant uprooting makes me wonder if I will ever settle anywhere.

There’s a long, drawn-out story involved in this year‘s great migration, but here are the basic facts: my boyfriend and I needed a place to live, and the young lady at this place had wanted out of her lease as soon as possible due to unnamed health problems. When the landlord found new people to move in she said she wanted to stay until the end of the month because she needed “to find the manpower” to help her move. The landlord set a move-in date, at which time she stopped returning his calls, and then threw a fit when she came home in her rainbow-colored bikini top to find some of my things stacked against her bedroom wall.

We spent all of Saturday, Sunday, and Monday moving stuff, putting things away, and cleaning up after this spoiled little slob who clearly hadn’t touched a mop, duster, or broom all year. There was a layer of grime on the blinds, fungus growing on the shower curtain (which had likely never been changed), and sundry treasures throughout the kitchen and bedroom. I am about as far from a clean freak as it gets, but even I said to myself, “Jesus bloody Christ,” as I pulled a ball of hair the size of a small rodent out of the shower drain.

I had to work Saturday, Monday, and Tuesday, so when all was said and done I hadn’t even had the time to put my own things away; my clothes are still in trash bags on the floor. I was looking forward to getting that done on Tuesday after work and having a day to myself the following day. I even allowed myself a midday nap, during which time I received a phone call from my boyfriend.

“I need you to come get me. I can’t walk.”

That’s right - my sister is not the only member of my family who attracts men who continue to find new and interesting ways to hurt themselves. I guess the skateboard as a transportation device was not the best solution to the “How will I get to class?” problem.

I picked him up and he hopped on one foot into work to tell them he would not be there for his shift in an hour, and then we drove to the hospital. Amazingly, the ER trip only took us about half the amount of time I once spent with a friend who was bleeding from the navel. In three and a half hours they managed take x-rays, put my boyfriend in a cast, tell him he had “either sprained or fractured” his ankle (they couldn’t tell which), and send him on his way with a prescription for generic Vicodin - which “may cause dizziness.” This shouldn’t be a problem - he is only on crutches, after all. The nausea and bloody noses also don’t at all cause problems.

We will make do. The university has a cripple van service that will be able to take him to class, and I can live with being the happy laundry-doing, grocery-buying housewife for a few weeks. If I budget my time well, maybe I will be able to get my books put away by August.

Today I took G to the doctor, and they took off his cast and replaced it with a space boot. His ankle is still swollen and badly bruised (a co-worker remarked that it looked like "a 400-pound woman's cankle"). The doctor said that he tore some ligaments, as well as broke some sort of bone, and may or may not need surgery. So in a week he goes back and still doesn’t know when he can go back to work, but at least he’s out of the cast and in less pain. Until then, we wait.

Also, I locked my keys in the car for the first time yesterday. Go me.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

On the Contrary

I'd like to change things up today. Contrary to what previous posts may have led you to believe, I like most of my customers. A vast majority of the people who walk in the door and place orders are polite, say "please" and "thank you," and don't give me problems. Most customers are forgettably pleasant and pleasantly forgettable, a fact that is easy to overlook when fuming about some asshole who ruined it all by complaining his 189-degree coffee was "lukewarm."

I particularly like the people whom I have gotten to know over the months since I started opening. Almost every restaurant has "regulars" - by my definition people who come in at least a couple times a week (some a couple times a day). I have the early morning regulars who stop in for bagels and coffee before work, the older retired regulars, the mid-morning-between-class bagel regulars, lunch regulars, and semi-regulars. I have scores of names and orders memorized, not counting the evening regulars I used to have when I closed.

I used to have a really hard time talking to customers. I don't want to make it sound like my job is super major hard, but for an introvert it can be very taxing to talk to people all day, every day. Sometimes it is still hard; on days when I'm feeling tired or moody the last thing I want to do is make small talk. It takes more effort to volley a conversation with someone on a casual level than with a good friend. There are rules: you can't be too short with them, but shouldn't go into too much detail either. You have to be personable, but not overly personal.

I've managed to achieve this balance with most of the people who come in in the morning, and now certain customers say hi to me even if another cashier takes their order. It's not much, but I'm proud of it because I never saw myself being good at that. I used to rarely converse with customers beyond what was absolutely necessary for the order; now a small group of them talk to me about their jobs, their exes, the weather, or whatever they feel like. And I talk back. In fact, my boyfriend of five months started off as one of my regulars, which means I must have been giving off enough warm vibes to make him want to slip me the post-it note with his phone number on it.

One woman started coming in and getting breakfast a couple of times a week. Before long I had memorized her name and her order. I was somewhat nervous around her; she was never unpleasant exactly, but she intimidated me because she had a strong presence and she didn't smile much - I didn't know how to read her. One day I was cashing her out and confirmed the name for the order, and she lit up. The following day she returned and told me that it had absolutely made her day when I said her name and order. Ever since, she makes a point to say hi to me and even calls me "sweetie." Things like this make customer service okay. Things like this make me think that, even though I'm crude and awkward as hell most of the time, I'm not a total weirdo.

Maybe it's because I'm always writing something nasty about certain customers and it's becoming tedious, or because I'm in a shitty mood and feeling exhausted and need to remember the good stuff in life, but I just felt like focusing on something that doesn't suck. Just this once. I promise I'll go back to spewing the hateful, malicious venom you're used to next time.

It is now 8 p.m. - bed time!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

This is why we're fat.

Today's discussion is about one of my least favorite topics: nutrition. Rachel at The Lifestyle "Diet" might take a particular interest in this because, unlike me, she is a brave vegetarian who is highly educated on and passionate about spreading the word on good food. So you should read her blog for more information if you're interested in that. I'm not an expert on food by any stretch of the imagination (my greatest culinary accomplishment thus far has been guacamole), but sometimes I take some orders horrifyingly awful enough to note - and I don't even work in fast food!

Take today, for example, at the barista counter. I made a couple of absolutely disgusting drinks. First, a girl came to the register and announced that she liked coffee drinks with "lots of cream and less coffee, and very very sweet." She seemed to enjoy sweetened espresso drinks but didn't know anything about coffee (as evidenced by the blank stare at the espresso bar menu), so I explained our flavored lattes to her: double shot of espresso, steamed 2% milk, choice of syrup, whipped cream topping. After she made her changes, the drink order resulted in this: caramel latte with hazelnut syrup, one shot of espresso only, steamed half-and-half (not milk, mind you), and whipped cream on top - the very antithesis to the sugar-free, skim/nonfat lattes popular with our more svelte friends (and those who are trying to be). As I steamed the 10 ounces of cream (most people pour about one or two ounces in their drip coffee, if they take cream at all), my manager asked what I was making and offered to finish the drink for me. I told him not to bother since there were so many changes; it would just be easier if I finished it. His eyes widened slowly as he watched me top off the sugary, syrupy hot cream with more cream and syrup, mouthing,

"Are you kidding me?" I just shrugged, but I was having a hard time not laughing. It was pretty ridiculous, but I couldn't help feeling like an asshole.

Not an hour later, a woman ordered a caramel latte and asked for three extra pumps of syrup on top of what we already put in (which is three). It may not sound like much, but this shit is thick and three pumps is 200 calories by itself, not to mention the original three (200 cal), the milk (100), and whipped cream (another 100) - I'll leave you to do the math. The syrup itself took more than twice as much room as the double shot of espresso. I was absolutely floored. I have my fatass days (hell, I had City BBQ for lunch today!), but wow. Just wow. People might as well add pure lard to their coffee. I try so hard not to pass judgment, but some people make it so difficult.

I'm mostly very libertarian about people and nutrition. I believe people are responsible for what they put in their bodies and they can choose to inhale crap all their lives if they please - I just don't want to hear a sob story in 20 years about their health problems (but that's another highly political issue I really don't want to touch right now). I'm not some health nut. I don't really watch what I eat that carefully. But seriously, if you just purchased two buttery, cheesy, greasy egg souffles, do you REALLY need cream cheese to go on top? (This really happened, by the way. This guy's breakfast alone was over 2,000 calories, with enough saturated fat and sodium to last him the entire week.)

I've been on the other end of this. A few years back, I went to Starbucks to study and ordered a mocha frappuccino and ultra gooey brownie thingy. I hardly thought anything of it until the cashier looked me up and down - slowing at my midsection - and remarked,

"That's a lot of sugar."

What!? Did she seriously just say that? I knew it was really bad for me, and I didn't give a shit - I had a sweet tooth and, oh yeah, I WAS THE FUCKING CUSTOMER AND IT WAS MY BUSINESS WHAT I ORDERED. I vowed to myself then that if I ever worked in food service I would never, ever comment on what a customer ordered unless they specifically asked for nutrition information.

In spite of that experience, I have singled out certain egregiously bad orders on occasion and have even made comments to other co-workers. I don't feel great about it, but sometimes one just can't ignore it. Indulging once in a while is one thing, but deliberately eating the worst shit possible such that even the fat girl goes, "Daaaaaayyyyuuuuuuuuummmm!" is entirely another.

I don't know. I want to wrap this up with some neat little conclusion about humanity and personal responsibility, but I don't have it in me today. 600-calorie lattes are just gross, people. Don't drink them.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

I write like shit but at least my drink is chocolatey!

I'll admit it. I'm one of those pretentious coffee shop assholes. I leave my perfectly good, perfectly quiet house and pay $4 for a frivolous espresso drink, then sit down to write or read.

I did it at first five years ago because I felt that, in order to be a fancy, successful writer, I needed all the bells and whistles - gorgeous, shiny notebooks that would eventually contain the gorgeous, shiny prose that would make me famous. When I was eighteen friends introduced me to the creamy, sugary, frozen/frappe drinks that made coffee tolerable, and the quiet ambiance of the coffee shop made the whole exercise seem comforting - even necessary. That summer after I graduated high school I wrote page after page of bad fiction and gained five pounds.

Today, I can tolerate unsweetened coffee with milk and prefer to write in a beat-up OSU notebook. Somehow, the prospect of writing seems much less intimidating that way. But I still haven't kicked the coffee shop habit, even if I now go mostly for the sake of pleasure and productivity. There is just something to be said for getting out of one's house, which is full of chores to be done and various other distractions. Often times at home I'm ready to buckle down and write, but I decide to check my e-mail first. Next thing I know it's five hours later and I'm finding myself laughing my ass off to a Dr. Tran video.

Going out increases accountability. I'm much more aware of what I'm doing when I'm not alone at home. Plus, I'm much less likely to start watching that must-see documentary on sex addiction when other people can see my monitor. (I swear it's not porn! They blur out the genitals, see, so that means it's scholarly! )

Had I gone to college twenty years ago, I can imagine myself drinking black coffee at some hole-in-the-wall place and writing angsty poetry, back when it was still kind of hip. But it is no longer a fresh concept. Everyone has jumped on the bandwagon; even McDonald's has its "McCafe" now. Starbucks has a worldwide empire (I know this because I've had the same drinks dozens of U.S. cities and five different countries). Soothing, mellifluous Italian words like espresso, latte, and cappuccino are no longer for the elite or trendy.

I know this because today I'm at a chain coffee shop. I'm trying to write, and I keep stopping. No matter how hard I try, I just can't get absorbed in what I'm doing. When looking for a seat I chose carefully because I have bad tendency to sit next to the most obnoxious customers. I found a comfy chair across from a guy sitting by himself with a laptop, seemingly a safe option. But before long, the two employees are yakking so loudly behind the counter that I can hear them from where I sit - over my music. Then, the guy with the laptop starts responding to what they're saying. Apparently, he's a regular.

"You're, like, the biggest eavesdropper ever!" the girl barista half whines, half giggles flirtatiously at the man.

Really? Because eavesdropping implies I had a choice whether or not to listen. I'm growing irritated; I'm even starting to sympathize with the anonymous customer who once left a survey comment at my job complaining the staff was too loud in the morning when (s)he tried to study. (Savor this moment, people, because I don't often side with customer complaints.)

Another man enters and sits next to the guy with the laptop, holding a book. They know each other, and they start talking loudly about cell phones and computers for over an hour. The guy barista even joins the conversation for a while while replacing creamers behind me, talking over me to the men. While this occurs another man (a large man in a bright orange shirt, no less) is outside leaning on the window next to which I'm sitting as he talks on his cell phone. I'm literally surrounded by people and noise, and it's two in the afternoon on a Wednesday.

This is what has become of the writer's haven and once well-kept secret. This is what has happened to local cafes, bars, and restaurants of all varieties with the advent of chains. Instead of a relatively small clientele who generally understand the unwritten codes of conduct, places now have to deal with every schmuck who walks in the door barking into his Bluetooth (or, as the brilliant late George Carlin once put it, "these self-important techno dicks" - watch this video at 5:05).

It's not that I don't think everyone should have a right to go where they prefer - and for whichever reasons they'd like - but what happened to the little local place I used to frequent where people could just sit and be themselves? Where all I could hear was the hum of quiet conversations, soft alternative music, and milk steaming? Whatever my reasons for doing the whole pretentious wannabe coffee shop thing, it used to be something I truly felt was mine, and it was easier then to ignore the fact that other people were discreetly doing the exact same thing when I didn't have to listen to the details of their phone plans.

My phone rings. It is my boyfriend, and I don't give a flying rat's ass about answering in public because no one else seems to care about the atmosphere of the place. I tell him where I am and what I'm doing, and he responds that it's "fancy," but he's dripping with irony. Born in New York City in 1990, he came of age long after Starbucks blew up and only yuppies started to go there with their laptops. Like me he's a writer, but unlike me not a coffee drinker. Like my past boyfriends, he seems to think I'm trying too hard to create a writerly image, or maybe I'm just assuming a veiled criticism that isn't actually there.

Maybe I should just cut the crap. Perhaps I really am still clinging to some dumb writer fantasy I got off of TV, still just the lame high-schooler who does this in the name of my own vanity. I could, after all, get as much accomplished on a park bench or at the T.G.I. Friday's in the afternoon post-lunch lull. But those places still don't have super-comfy leather chairs and the delicious scent of espresso beans and baked goods, nor do they have the romantic (if not naive and vain) promise of potential writerdom. Perhaps it's time to start getting my coffee to go and re-acquaint myself with the public library, which is among the last public places where it's acceptable to tell loud douche bags to kindly shut the fuck up.