Wednesday, December 27, 2006

sitting at the grown-up table

So much to say!

First, christmas was better than I expected it to be. As I said before, I wasn't looking forward to the holidays at all this year, and having to deal with people who feel otherwise has just been annoying. However, as it turned out, I had a pretty nice time last weekend getting ready for and celebrating xmas. First, I went out last Friday with my friend Chris, with whom I have so much in common. We worked together briefly, but he and starbucks didn't really click and now he has a job that makes him happier. I'm so glad for this, as it means we can be friends, where before a friendship wouldn't have been possible. We've been through a lot of similar situations, such as being married and then divorcing and coming out. It's nice to connect with someone who understands what that was like, because most people don't get it, no matter how sympathetic they are. Also, we both came down to florida this past year as an exit strategy, a way to get away from things that haunted us, things that blocked any paths to happiness. It's been wonderful the past couple weeks to get to know someone else who is in such a similar state of mind. Friday night, we went out for a few drinks (the repercussions of which I felt all the next day) and I loved every minute of it. I love that we have become friends.

Saturday night was a big christmas party with all the rest of my friends down here. What a fabulous night! It was at Becca's place and it was perfect. Dinner was great, and we all actually behaved like grown-ups, rather than drunken slobs. I was so proud of all of us! However, my friend Aubri at one point made a comment about how lovely and mature everything was and how much she was enjoying this mood for a change, when Bridget next to her pointed out a glob of food that had fallen on Aubri's shirt. That sort of ended the whole "grown-up party" theme, but it was a good time. Here are our cute stockings from the party:

Truly, it was a fabulous night, one which reminded me how lucky I am to have found all these friends since moving down here. There was a moment during dinner, while we were all sitting around Becca's beautifully decorated table, when I stepped back and looked at everything from a distance, and I realized that good things have happened to me since coming here. Every time I think I don't belong anywhere, I find myself sitting with friends who make me laugh, make me feel right, and make me care. I love them for that.

And at that party someone gave me syphilis for christmas. Actually, it's a pink, fuzzy stuffed worm thing that supposedly looks just like the syphylis microbe. This person gave someone else mono and yet another person the clap.

The next day, Christmas Eve, started at work for me. I worked until 4pm, which was fine, as it meant being out of everyone's way at home as they ran around and finished last minute preps for the holiday. After work, I stopped at Chris' place to give him a new copy of David Sedaris' book, Me Talk Pretty One Day. It's one of my favorites, and I knew he'd love it too. After leaving him with that gem, I headed home for my family's christmas eve. Normally, we get together with the extended family on christmas eve and then stay around the house with the immediate family the next day, but this year we reversed things, and it was nice. My sister and my niece were here of course, so it was them, my parents, my little brother, and me. We had dinner, opened some gifts, and then played the Friends version of Scene It. I kicked their asses in it, just like I told them I would.

Christmas day was nice too, but not as relaxing as the previous night. My niece and my brother both woke up so early. I don't know what time it was, but it couldn't have been much later than dawn. They opened presents, we had breakfast, and I went back to sleep. Later, we went to the big family gathering, which was more low-key than normal.

While I don't remember all the details of last year's christmas gathering, I do remember that at one point during the evening, my aunt's dog took a shit right in the front doorway, but nobody realized until my dad had accidentally stepped in it and walked across the floor, spreading it around. It smelled horrible. Once people realized what had happened, they started gagging and shrieking, and everyone huddled in one corner of the room, as far from the doorway as possible. In the meantime, my 12-year-old brother, who has a sensitive stomach along with some OCD issues, went a little ballistic and almost hyperventilated because he wanted to get away from the dog shit as soon as possible, but he couldn't get out of the house because the pile of crap was actually blocking the doorway. So instead, he paced in giant circles, gagging and on the brink of a meltdown. Someone, perhaps my aunt, one of my uncles, or my dad cleaned it all up and everything went back to normal. Except my brother. He busted out of there and wouldn't go back in for a while. And as usual, while this was happening, I stood back watching and laughing.

Nothing like that happened this year, though. I'm sure my brother is glad for this.

Christmas would have been ok without my friends, but with the friends I've made here, it was great. They made all the difference. Also, I did have a lot of fun with my family, especially beating them with my superhuman knowledge of Friends trivia.

Now, I just have to survive the dreaded New Year's Eve ordeal. That holiday always makes me edgy. Too much pressure. But I'll deal with that on Sunday.

Friday, December 22, 2006

this and that

Book 7 has a title! It's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Still no publication date, though, as she hasn't even delivered the complete manuscript to Bloomsbury, her publisher. I can't wait!!!!!

Other than this, the only thing on my mind right now is pure delight that I'm off work today and tomorrow. I'm going to the store for about 45 minutes this afternoon to interview a possible new employee, but that's it. I have one more gift I need to buy before Christmas eve, so I'm going to take care of that today.

I haven't been up very long yet this morning and, actually, I had hoped to sleep even later but I woke for some reason and couldn't go back to sleep. A few minutes after getting up, I was walking across the living room to the kitchen when I noticed that one of the dogs has puked on the floor. I cleaned it up, but I don't know which dog did this. Both are now curled up on the sofa staring expectantly at me, watching every move I make just in case I decide to do something exciting, like take them for another walk (in addition to the one we just went for), which isn't going to happen for another couple hours. They both seem fine, so I can't decide which of them left me that little treat on the floor.

It's a pretty exciting morning around here...

I'm going out to dinner tonight with a friend, and then on saturday is a christmas party with a whole bunch of friends. I've been a tad anti-social for the past few weeks, so I'm trying to gear myself up for this reintroduction to my social life. I know I'll have fun, but it takes more mental preparation for us introverted folks. On the other hand, I had such a wonderful time with my good friend Becca the other night. All we did was meet for coffee at the cafe in Barnes & Noble and then wander around the bookstore together. I so love good conversation, something Becca is excellent at providing. It was one of my favorite nights in a long time.

Speaking of books (sorta), I've been reading a young-adult book that Kathy sent me: Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging. It's by Louise Rennison, and it is great! Kathy's been telling me for years to read it, so finally she just sent me a copy to make sure I'd get to it. It's a quick easy read, and the only reason I didn't finish it all in one sitting is because of this crazy busy work schedule. This is sort of a high-school version of Bridget Jones, in the sense that it's written in diary style and is funny as hell. Also, it takes place in a private, all-girls school, which is a main reason Kathy loved it and knew I would to, being survivors of an all-girls catholic school ourselves.

I love and totally respect any well written young-adult book. It's a hard audience to write for and anyone who does it well is truly talented. A couple of my favorite books are young-adult, for example, The Witch of Blackbird Pond. I read it about once a year, ever since I first discovered it back in 7th grade, and it still moves me. Come to think of it, I haven't read it in a while, so maybe it's time to revisit it. Perhaps that's something I'll do during these next two days off.

Enough rambling for now. I need some breakfast.

Monday, December 18, 2006


How does one "fail a gender test"? Seriously. Even the news reports can't seem to explain this one. What the hell does it mean to fail a gender test?

What is a gender test in the first place?

I'd like to say something in criticism of this, as it sounds like something that would piss me off, but honestly, I don't even understand the story enough to bitch about it. And, frankly, it appears nobody does. So why is the story all over the place, when nobody knows what to do with it or how to report it?

frapp du jour

I got the giggles at work tonight, in a bad way. First of all, we were of course crazy busy and it would have been so easy to get stressed out and cranky tonight. But there's no point in letting that happen, as it won't help matters. So I try to just get through it all and find things to laugh about in the meantime.

For example, a dorky college kid came up to the register and said, "I want that frappucino. What's it called, with the vanilla?"

I said, "You mean the cafe vanilla frappucino?"

"Yeah! It's the coffee and vanilla one, right? So what's in it?"

"Coffee and vanilla."

"Oh, really?! That sounds great! I'll have one of those."

Instead of irritating me, his earnest stupidity made me think of that scene in Dumb and Dumber, at the diner when Lloyd (Jim Carrey) asks the waitress, "What's the soup du jour?" And the waitress responds flatly, "It's the soup of the day." And Lloyd looks thrilled and says, "Mmmm. I'll have that!" (I tried to find that scene on YouTube to link here, but no such luck.)

As soon as this popped into my head, the giggling started, which might not have been a problem except for the fact that I was still trying to help this guy, and I couldn't let him know I was laughing at him for sounding like Lloyd Christmas. I kept it together until he was finished, but then for the rest of the night I'd think about the absurdity of the exchange he and I had and then I'd think about that movie scene, and I'd lose it. I don't mind, though, as that is definitely better than losing it the other way, like when the mean mean mean wicked woman made me cry last week.

Though I did have a few minutes earlier tonight when I thought I might go that way. I was trying desperately to make a couple of high-maintenance customers--who were together--happy, though they were so demanding and horrible that it was harder than hell to stay friendly and help them with what they needed, especially when a couple dozen drink orders I needed to make were backing up and people were getting restless. I did all I could and somehow stayed calm and friendly (or at least I pretended to), but I know they were still unsatisfied and I'm sure thought I was an idiot. Finally, when they were finished and on their way, I went back to work helping the other customers who'd been made to wait because of this previous couple, and I suppose despite my efforts and the not-completely-genuine smile plastered on my face, another customer tried to cheer me up and said all kinds of sweet things about how hard I was working and what a great job I was doing, etc. And then he tried to give me a tip--as opposed to putting it in the tip jar for the whole staff. I was so touched, though I put it in the tip jar anyway. Really, though, it was his kind words that touched me, not the tip.

Of course, then he also said something about how lucky my "future husband will be someday" and I laughed so hard and could only thank him for being sweet, rather than try to explain anything that he wasn't aware of. This was a young guy, maybe 25. He was there with his girlfriend, and they both seemed to be fairly alert, bright people, and tonight I was looking particurlarly--um, how should I say this--dykey. So I was a little surprised that he'd make such an innocent/blind/naive assumption. But oh well. It was funny, he was fun and sweet, and it more than made up for the jerks before him.

For every asshole I deal with, I encounter at least 100 sweethearts who make it worthwhile.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


Earlier today I wrote something in an email to a friend and I'm going to sort of echo here what I wrote there because to me it's the easiest way to explain my state of mind now.

This has been the longest summer ever...and I don't feel like it's ended yet for so many reasons. Summer is always when I feel the worst on most levels; anything I'm not satisfied with in life feels magnified each summer: finances, personal life, professional choices, geography, etc. Normally, I trudge throught it all, knowing that with every day of heat and suffocation, I am closer to the relief of fall, the clarity of winter.

Yes, I know, I know...most people don't understand my love of cold weather. I get that, and I have actually been ridiculed for it. And guess what. I don't really understand my love of fall and winter anymore than other people do, nor do I understand it more than I understand the way other people seem to enjoy sweating in the filthy summer air. I just know that I am a better person during the cold time of year; everything feels right for me then. I can think more clearly, make better choices, enjoy life more. For whatever reason, that's just the way it is for me.

Normally, July is a killer and August is plain unbearable. But the thing about August is that it's when relief is in sight...the end of August is the beginning of September, and that's when I know everything is going to be ok. Somehow, by no planning of my own, I always end up sitting alone in some coffeehouse writing in my journal every August 31st. Of course, that could be because I have spent most of my adult life sitting in coffeehouses writing in my journal. But every year for the past several, I'll be sitting there and I'll notice that it's August 31st, usually around 10-something at night and that I only have two or so more hours left of August, which for me is officially the end of the summer, even though it doesn't technically end until mid-september. And every year, upon this realization, I sigh audibly and give myself a little pat on the back for making it through my least favorite time of year in one piece (and more importantly, with the people around me in one piece).

However, it's always about way more than just temperature. I generally enjoy the momentum of life better in the fall and winter months, while summer for some reason feels like a gap in life. Maybe it's because I have spent most of my life in or teaching school, so summer often has been when things stop for me, and I don't like that.

This past one has been the worst ever. Staring last spring, everything fell to pieces. Everything. Emotionally, financially, and in every other way, this has been the hottest, longest summer ever. And not just because I moved to south florida. Even though the calendar says it's now December, in so many ways, I haven't felt the release of fall yet, not literally or figurative speaking. Whenever I go into the living room right now, I'm surprised to see the Christmas tree, as I sometimes forget it isn't still August, because I've remained in an August state of mind for months.

Some things are coming up for me, though, and I am beginning to think that my own September is finally on its way. For example, on December 29th I am scheduled to officially interview for the promotion to assistant store manager. The company calls that my panel date, which is actually a scarier term to me than just interview. It entails meeting with my district manager and two high-ranking store managers (who are soon-to-be district managers) for at least a couple hours. I have no doubt in my mind that I will be a great assistant manager and then eventually store manager, but the interview is what intimidates me a tad. On the other hand, I feel confident that it will go well, which means a significant promotion and lots of opportunities to get my life back on track.

I also have some plans for my non-professional life in the works right now, and I'm debating some options. I'm not going into detail here until I have made some further decisions, but the point is that I am beginning to feel that momentum of life returning to me and I am remembering what it is to like myself again, to know that I am capable and deserving of whatever wishes and dreams I pursue. I'm changing the things I don't like about my life. I'm moving on.

Sometimes in August, it's hard to believe the relief will ever come. Sometimes I'm almost convinced that my world will stay hot, paralyzed, and polluted forever. But logically I know that September has to come. It always has and always will. No matter how hard it is to conceive of the changes that will take place, the arrival of September is a fact, which requires only my patience. Just as on early September nights when I feel hints of that cool, cleansing energy which brings about the drastic changes of fall, I now believe those same changes will finally occur in my life. They have to. They always do. It's finally the end of August for me. It's been the longest summer ever.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

stupid complaint/observation

So many people---even incredibly smart people---misspell the word 'definitely' that I actually had a moment of doubt today about its spelling. It's a trend I've noticed a lot lately. People spell it 'definately' all the time. My students used to do it (and probably still do, despite my efforts) and people do it all over the internet. Finally, today I actually wondered if I was the one misspelling it, because surely so many people can't be that wrong that often. So I looked it up at

1. certainly: without a doubt. "He definitely had a Swedish accent."
2. finally and unchangeably: as a conclusion after some thought or hesitation. "Once she had definitely decided to go, she started packing."
3. exactly: in a precise way. "Without knowing definitely what it was, he just felt that something was wrong."

Yeah, that's what I thought. I'm right. Everyone in the world spells this simple word incorrectly. There is no 'A' in this word, people!!!! No matter how much you want to put one there, 'A' does not belong in this word.


Needed to get this off my chest, because of course I am perfect. (Just ignore the copious misspellings in my previous couple entries.)

Monday, December 11, 2006

almost festive

Although I usually love the holidays, I'm not really feeling christmas this year for several reasons, mostly because it's just not a fun time of year to be single and transitional. I am excited that my parents are so thrilled to have all their kids here for the holidays; this truly makes me happy. But otherwise, I'm pretty complacent about the season this year.

However, today I finally heard my favorite holiday song: Snoopy's Christmas. I don't know why I love this song so much, but I always have. I've searched the internet for a site I could link to here which would play the song, and I only found one. (I'd say something about the cheesy pics of dogs on the site, but who am I to laugh at someone who decorates their websites with pictures of their dogs? I even named my blog after my dog.) Anyway, if you want to hear the song, click on the Snoopy's Christmas link above and make sure your volume is turned on.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

mean people

A customer made me cry at work yesterday (Saturday). We were so busy and the line just never stopped. I mean, it was saturday afternoon two weeks before christmas, in a part of town where all the people with more money than they deserve go to spend said money. So we were insanely busy all day. As much as I love my job, even I was stretched to the limit. Mostly our customers yesterday were pleasant. They were out with their families, enjoying beautiful weather, and they didn't mind waiting in line, since they were aware of the fact that we were all working our fingers to the bones and going as fast as possible in as pleasant a mood as possible.

Until Ms. Lunatic Bitch came in. First, she got angry with me after she paid for her order (a latte and a newspaper) and learned we were out of large shopping bags. She hollered at me for not telling her this before she paid for her order. How was I to know, based on her order, she'd want a bag?? Who needs a bag for a drink and a newspaper? But I smiled anyway, apologized, and as she requested, refunded her money for the paper, as that is evidently what she planned on putting in the bag. Then, about five minutes later, she came up to me in the cafe, pointed her ugly finger in my face and asked, "Who can I talk to about placing a complaint?" I politely told her I was the manager on duty and that she could talk to me. She said, "This is absolutely the WORST Starbucks I've ever been to and I think you need to be fired." I was astounded and could only manage to say, "I'm so sorry." I was about to ask her what happened to make her say this and ask how I could rectify the situation, when she interrupted me and said, "This is pathetic. I'm from New York and I've never seen anything like this." What her being from New York has to do with anything is beyond me, except that there are a ton of transplants living here from NYC, many of whom seem to think they are better than everyone because they're from New York, when in reality most people don't give a shit and aren't impressed by where they come from. Anyway, I assumed her problem was with the fact that she'd had to wait in line for a while to order and then again to get her drink. I was going to say, "I'm truly sorry. I know we're really busy right now, because of the holidays and because our store is undergoing a lot of transitions at the moment, but we're going as fast as we can. What can I do to make this better for you?" blahblahblah...or something along those lines. But--again--before I could get out one full sentence, she cut me off and said, "I'm from New York. Don't tell me about being busy. Things are busier there than here." Seriously, I don't know why the hell she thought I gave a shit about her being from New York, but she kept bringing it up. And no matter what I kept starting to say, she cut me off after about two words and went on to yell at me that she was going to contact our corporate offices and make sure I was fired because I was rude to her and because the store was so poorly run. This was happening in the middle of the cafe, right in front of all the customers and employees. AND the district manager and my store manager were just in the back room and could have walked out at any second.

She stormed out of the store, and I burst into tears. Right there in front of everyone. I don't know why that was my reaction, because I have dealt with plenty of shitty, rude customers. Though, none has ever been quite this bitchy. I had ridiculously bad PMS and I'm frankly just exhausted from how busy we've been lately because of the holidays. No matter how much someone loves their job, it's just not easy to smile for 8 hours straight and never snap at someone who's being an asshole. I'm pretty good at keeping myself under control, but after this women left, I totally lost it. Normally, though, when I lose it over something work related, I get mad, but this time I cried. It sucked. I couldn't stop working to go somewhere and pull myself together, because of how busy we were. There simply wasn't time. So I tried with everything in me to pull the tears back in and get over it all and focus on work. But I just couldn't. And I also couldn't go into the back room for a moment of privacy while I stopped crying, because that's where my bosses were and I especially didn't want the district manager to see me like this. So I tried to go into the bathroom, but there was a line. I felt so trapped and the tears were still coming, and I just looked ridiculous. Eventually, I was able to focus on work long enough to stop crying, until the DM left and my manager asked me to help her with something in the back room. As soon as I got back there, I burst into tears all over again. My manager said, "Oh no! What's wrong?" I told her and, honestly, I was a little afraid she'd have something critical to say about how I handled things, but instead she laughed and told me that if she had a dollar for every time a customer said something horrible like that to her or made her cry, she'd be rich. She was totally cool about it and even said, "I hope she does call corporate, bacause you did nothing wrong." But between the PMS and being overtired, it stuck with me all day and even though I didn't cry anymore, I was low for the rest of my shift. It sucked.

I don't think some people realize what a difference their behavior has on other people. Clearly, this bitch of a woman was in a pissy mood about something unrelated to me and has some issues of her own, but she took it out on me. Normally, I'd be able to shrug it off and just smile and say, "I'm so sorry. Please accept this coupon for a free drink next time you come in" while I was actually thinking, "Fuck you." But this time, she caught me at a bad moment and left me in a pile of inarticulate, weepy nerves.

When I came home and told my sister about it, she said I should have looked at the woman and said, "Go home. Go back to New York if it's so much better. And eat shit." I like that idea, but it wouldn't get me promoted to assistant manager.

On the other hand, I dealt with a crappy customer the other day, and my reaction was to laugh. This guy came in and purchased four pounds of whole bean coffee and after he paid, he asked if I could grind it for him. No problem. Before I turned around to get started on this, he slid a wrinkled five dolalr bill across the counter and told me that he was in the middle of dinner at a nearby restaurant and explained in detail where his table is. And then he told me to bring his ground coffee to him at this table in about 20 minutes.


He seriously thought this was an acceptable request.

I wanted to laugh so hard, but I calmly apologized and explained that I couldn't do this, as for starters we don't deliver and mostly because I couldn't spare any of the staff for even a few minutes. He couldn't really comprehend what I was telling him, that I was saying No. I apologized again and promised that I could instead have his coffee ready to go and all bagged up so that when he was finished with dinner, he'd only have to come in and grab it off the counter. He was reluctanly satisfied with this answer and went on his way.

The next customers were a couple young women. They stepped up to the register and ordered drinks, and then one of the women said, "And I'd like for you to deliver this to me at a restaurant across town." And then she laughed and said she couldn't believe that guy's request (though it was more a demand than request). I died laughing and was so glad for the chance to release the laughter that had built up while dealing with the guy. She reminded me, "This is West Palm Beach, where people think they can buy everything. Of course if we were a mile away, across the intracoastal on Palm Beach, he'd have slipped you a hundred instead of a five."

So true.

The thing is, if we hadn't been busy and if he'd asked nicely, I might have brought him his coffee on my break, just to help him out and to be friendly. But since he was an asshole and since he thought he could make my day by offering me a lousy five dollars, there was no way in hell I'd do that. But it did give me a good laugh after he was gone.

Some of the people around here treat us like we're "the help" and only exist to make their empty lives easier. It makes me miss my old store, which is in a totally laid back, working class neighborhood with lots of artistic types who linger for hours chatting with us and nursing a $1.65 cup of coffee all day.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

wednesday blah

I know I need to post something new here, but I don't feel like it. So I'm going to post this update about how I don't feel like writing a real update. I took five days off work last week and this weekend, because Kathy came down for a visit, which was wonderful. But now that she's back in Cincinnati and we're both back at work, I'm in a post-fun slump. I hate that I live so far from my oldest, closest friend.

However, we did have a great time during her visit. We went to a Polynesian restaurant, which was so kitschy and outrageous and fun. And of course we also spent much time on the beach, at the nearby tiki bar, and going out to some of my hangouts here. It was fun for me to experience where I've been living, but through a vacationer's remember that while I bitch and moan about living here (because it will never be my paradise, as it is for many others) some people pay lots of money to come here for vacation. Plus, Kathy really does love the south florida climate, so I know she was happy for a break from early winter temps up north.

Mostly, it was fun just to have much-needed time goofing off with Kathy.

But now...back to work and the usual stuff.