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Stupid piece of paper

Today I was asked by no less than three people where I went to school. I don’t remember how it came up in any of these conversations. The only thing I know is the conversations continued like this:

Them – “So, where did you go to school?

Me – “Uh, well… um, I didn’t…

Then comes the nervous ramblings:

I graduated high school then I moved to Europe for awhile to be an au pair then moved back because, ya know, I fell in love ::giggle:: then I became a flight attendant and traveled all over the world and then uh… stupid economy… and now I’m here. A barista… slash waitress. And, yeah…

Them – ::blank stare:: “Oh. That’s. Nice.” ::backs away::

And they walk away probably wondering what the heck they asked exactly and I’m left feeling an inch tall.

There’s a sinking feeling in my chest whenever I think about it. About how I judged I feel. About how stupid and backwards and behind and lame and worthless they must think I am.

Then, not much later one of the askers made a comment about me not even having been to college. It was a negative comment. I can’t remember the wording exactly…

Because I was so shocked and had to fight the urge to burst into tears. Or run away and hide in a hole.

I’m not stupid.

I’m not.

And I could have that stupid piece of paper. I’m smart enough. I was a straight A student for goodness sake. I love school.

It’s the idea of taking on ten of thousands of dollars in debt that terrifies me. Especially because that dumb piece of paper is no guarantee that I’ll have any better job than I do right now. But people would think better of me. They wouldn’t think I’m stupid.

Because maybe some of them don’t. I might be paranoid.

But I know some of them do. The comments prove that to me.

The “Oh but you’re… smart.”You seem like such a smart girl.”A degree isn’t everything.”

And I smile and laugh and agree while wishing the ground would open up and swallow me whole.

I want to scream going to college doesn’t make you better than me! I’m smart dammit!

::sigh::

The thing is, I love my life. I’m so happy with my life, I wouldn’t change anything. There’s no point in my life experience that I can imagine changing. I’ve had an amazing life. I’ve done more in 24 years than some people do in a lifetime. There’s so much more I have left to do and I expect it’s all going to be just as amazing.

So yeah, I didn’t go to college. I want to. I will.

But in the meantime… could you please just not ask?

A couple little snippets

Today was a long day. I opened the store this morning and I closed the store this evening. Good times. Thankfully I had a six hour break in the middle so I was able to have a nice long lunch with Joel and take a much needed nap. Instead of giving you the run down of my entire day I’ll just give you the moments that stood out.

– We have a tip jar at work. Some people drop the extra change in, some people leave a whole dollar. More often than not people don’t leave anything at all. It’s whatever. I don’t really judge you if you don’t leave a tip. Obviously I like you more if you do but like I said, whatever. Your pennies and nickles don’t make or break my day. We have several regulars though and one of them is a really nice, retired guy that comes in most days and does his crossword while he has his coffee. We’ve had several nice conversations and never have I noticed whether he left a tip or not. Until today.

For some reason, after he paid for his coffee and I handed him his 18 cents he felt the need to explain himself. His words were

I would leave you this as a tip but I have a jar at home that I’m saving my change in. It’s about the size of your tip jar but it’s full of quarters. It probably has $1,000. I’m saving for a vacation.

My outward response was “Oh, how nice.” What I was thinking though was “Um, good for you?” I tweeted as much.

The thing is, like I said, I don’t care that much if you tip me. Whatever, it’s your money. However, if you don’t tip me I’d like to think it’s because you didn’t think it was necessary. Don’t tell me that you specifically considered giving me a tip, thought about it and decided you were better off with your 18 cents than I am. Then you just look greedy.

-Joel and I had lunch together at an amazing Chinese buffet near our apartment. We sat next to a couple tables where what appeared to be a class of high school students were sitting. There were probably 10 students and 2 teachers at the table and they were discussing trying new food and some kind of study questions etc. Things you’d expect to hear from a field trip. I only caught snippets of their conversation and wasn’t paying much attention until I heard the teacher say,

“No, I don’t got a pen.

And then I died a little inside. Oh god, our educational system is so broken even the teachers can’t speak proper English. I visibly cringed. Thank goodness not a moment later I heard her say,

“But I might have a pen.”

She was correcting a students grammar by being snarky. And then all was back to being right with the world. It probably shouldn’t have mattered that much to me, but it did.

And now I’m planning to sleep as long as possible. Even after taking the nap I could have slept hours and hours ago. Hanging out with my coworkers was totally worth it though. It’s such a rare thing to enjoy all the people’s company that you work with as much as I do. I’m a lucky girl and I definitely know it.

Accidental overdose

Caffeine has always affected me strongly. Always. There are times that I lie awake at 3am and think “Why the heck can’t I sleep?” Then I remember I had a Dr. Pepper at noon. Yeah.

The thing is, when you’re using a manual espresso machine like what we have at work, you have to adjust the grind, pull a shot and then taste it so you can see if things are set just right. It’s amazing what a difference a few seconds or slight grind adjustment can make.

This morning, something got messed up with the grind when I was out of the room and it was really tricky for me to get it just right again. It took me about 8 tries before I got it perfect.

Oh, did I mention our machine only pulls double shots?

Yup.

Granted, I didn’t drink all 8 double shots. The girl I was working with had some and I poured a little out. I estimate I probably consumed the equivalent of 8-12 espresso shots though in about 15 minutes. About the last one a guy sitting at the counter mentioned we must get wired at work.

And that’s when I felt it.

Within a few minutes it felt like my whole body was shaking. My hands? Visible tremors. And I immediately feared I would never sleep again.

Now, I’m a fairly upbeat person. At work that is amplified for obvious reasons. As a barista I believe a good word to describe me would be chipper. Me, as a barista, on 12 shots of espresso? Ho.ly. moly.

I felt like my mouth was a runaway train. I talked a million miles an hour. I couldn’t stand still. I was giggling about nothing. Frankly, I was annoying myself. Ugh.

The worst part was we weren’t busy so I had nothing to use my excess energy on. I was all “Quick, what counteracts coffee?

Coworker- “Uh, beer…?

I actually considered it for half a second. Except it was like 9am. Oh and the pesky getting fired thing. I still like my job thankyouverymuch.

I really felt like I could have run a mile. You know, like one of those cartoon characters where all you see is the trail of smoke?

Instead I just drank a ton of water and tried to take deep breaths. And tried not to be so freaking annoying. Seriously. Who let me around caffeine?

It’s about 7pm now and I’m just starting to get sleepy. Pretty good considering I only got four hours of sleep last night. And that it’s been ten hours since I consumed any caffeine.

I learned my lesson though. I still have to taste the espresso when I calibrate things every morning. From now on though? I’ll remember to just sip a little instead of downing the whole thing.

After all, I do want to actually sleep at some point.

Covered in coffee

Today I left work covered in coffee from head to toe.

Seriously.

At least of the many smells I could smell like working in a restaurant type setting coffee is one of the best. Joel definitely seems to appreciate it.

The reason I was covered in coffee was because from the time we opened at 7am we were slammed with business. And my lovely coworker called in sick. On the busiest morning of the week. Which turned into the busiest morning we’ve had. Ever. And me left to handle it basically alone. Awe.some.

I reached the breaking point when I had rung in no less than five espresso orders and still had a line practically out the door. Thank God that was the moment one of the cashiers came over and offered to take over ringing people up which left me free to make lattes and cappuccinos like a mad woman.

Next thing I knew it was noon. I don’t know if people ate outside. I’m not even positive how more brewed coffee got made. That whole block of time is a blur of espresso grounds and steaming milk. There was much splashing and spillage. Hence my being covered in coffee and the whole bar area looking like a Javanese war zone. If the Javanese used coffee as weapons, that is.

Honestly, I’ve never had so much fun at work. I work well under pressure. Just ask Joel about my getting ready last minute skills. I felt like a real barista for the first time. I cranked those drinks out. I’m fairly certain I didn’t even mess any up. Or at least not bad enough for anyone to complain. Every drink even had latte art on it. I’m just that pro.

Or something. Some of the art was more abstract. Or happy accidents like a tulip I made on one drink. The recipient probably thought I was crazy the way I was squeeing over her latte.

Me- “Ooooh! Pretty flower!”

Guest- thinking “That coffee girl has lost it

I just have to figure out how to do it again. Then I’ll go pro.

Actually, did you know they really do have World Barista Championships? I didn’t until I did the training with Intelligentsia and saw the shelf full of trophies. It’s a serious business if you get really into it.

Anyway, all the customers were actually really fantastic and totally understanding. Thank goodness it wasn’t a weekday where they were all on their way to the train. I have a feeling there would have been a lot less smiling and a lot more huffing and yelling. With everyone in a happy mood it helped keep me relaxed and having a good time.

So today was a great day despite (or maybe because) a girl called in sick. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been quite so annoyed with her. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

Plus? I didn’t have to share the tips.

Happy

It’s funny how when I’m happy I feel the need to apologize for it. I am so freaking happy. And you know what? I’m not sorry about that.

Not even a little.

But still I feel like I can’t talk about it. Not on my blog anyway. Because that would be like bragging, wouldn’t it?

The thing is, it’s so different from how I was feeling a month ago. A month ago I was seriously starting to wonder if I needed help of the men in white coats sort.

Or at least the kind that comes with happy pills and couches.

It isn’t normal to feel such deep sadness that you cry for days.

For no reason at all.

It makes me feel almost dizzy just thinking about it. It was awful.

The scary thing is, I never figured out why I was so unhappy. All I know is that I’m happy now.

I have a feeling my happiness has a lot to do with the fact that I’m working again. As “nice” as it is to lounge around all day everyday chatting on Twitter and watching my shows I felt useless and lazy. I hate feeling lazy. I consider laziness my biggest flaw.

Now, almost every day I shower, get dressed, smile and interact with humans. My clothes are fitting better even though the number on the scale hasn’t gone down. When I do spend time lazing around the house it’s a treat. There’s still a little guilt but it’s justifiable.

There’s a small undercurrent of unease that follows me around. Like a dark trickle under the surface that threatens to burst at any moment and become the next gulf spill of sadness.

I don’t ever want to go back to the dark place I was in. I also don’t want my happiness to depend on work or other outside factors that I can’t really control. I want my happiness to come from inside of me. That’s a much more elusive kind of happiness.

The good news is, unless I think about really hard I can’t tell the difference between that kind of happy and the kind I am now. I’m content to take the kind of happiness I can get for now though.

Even if there’s a chance it could disappear, it sure is wonderful while it lasts.

First world problems

I got a super short night of sleep last night. Thankfully it was longer than originally scheduled. I left work around 11:45pm (an hour and 15 mins later than scheduled. Stupid last minute rush that made me tips so never mind.)

On the original schedule I was supposed to be at work at 4:30 the next morning. Not the shortest night of sleep I’ve ever had but dang.

Also, yuck.

Thank god my manager is a nice person and that was a scheduling mistake not a purposeful attempt to make coffee essential to my survival. I didn’t complain about it because I know we’re kind of short staffed and didn’t want to be a whiner. She actually realized it and went out of her way to find someone to switch with me. She actually told me it woke her up in the middle of the night. This made me laugh because 1. Aw, that’s nice and 2. I would so do something like that.

My switch wasn’t too much later though. I still had to be back at work at 6:30am. So a short night but more reasonable than the nap I was going to be stuck with before.

With four hours of sleep and a “taste test” of the espresso shots I was fairly functional. What? We definitely have to do that. So what if the girl who actually opened already had done it. It needed to be done.

Shut up.

We weren’t super busy either so I didn’t have too many opportunities to spill hot coffee all over anyone. I get clumsy when I’m sleepy.

I did get called stupid though which is always fun. Math isn’t my strong point in the first place. When I’ve had very little sleep? Bah. So yeah, the receipt paper ran out and I accidentally put the wrong type of paper in the machine. That meant nothing printed out and I hadn’t noticed the change that was due. Whenever these things happen? I panic. I can do math. Adding, subtracting, multiplying… I can do it. When I panic however? It’s much harder.

I took a breath to try and figure it out (I had to remember the price too) and tried to make a joke about it being early. Instead of laughing the lady was all “No, it’s just your generation. You’re useless without computers.” She then proceeded to tell me the change she was due.

Whatever lady. Psh. I know I’m not stupid but it’s cool if you think so. Super speedy math skills is not the only sign of intelligence. At least I can write good.*

Everyone else was super nice and I even was taught a new drink by a customer. Obviously I don’t know how to make all coffee drinks but if someone can tell me what goes in a drink I can totally try to make it. The drink was a Cuban which is a double shot of espresso extracted with raw sugar. So yummy.

Bonus: Naturally I had to try this new drink. Because obviously.

One of the owners came in later in the morning and ordered a coffee. Until they figure out something different the policy is that everyone pays for everything from the store. It’s definitely weird charging the owner for a cup of coffee but whatever, there’s no confusion then.

As he was paying he was pulling money out of his pockets and putting it on the counter while complaining about carrying around way too much change.

Ok, now I don’t know about you, but when I feel like I have “too much change” that generally means too many pennies and nickels. Maybe dimes. Quarters and up? I’ve never felt I had too much. Maybe that’s just me.

Anyway, the change the owner was pulling out of his pockets mostly consisted of quarters and dollars. And a ten dollar bill. All this change of which there was just too much? He proceeded to dump into our tip jar. It was like twelve-fifteen dollars, people!

I’m not sure if I was clear about the fact that there was a ten dollar bill.

I wasn’t sure if he was serious but yep, he totally was. He laughed about it and then I made some awkward joke about wishing I had the problem of my pockets being too full of money. Tough life.

So yeah, I take this as a sign the store is doing well. The owners are walking around weighted down with annoying little ten dollar bills they have to get rid of.

Like I said, first world problems.

*Yes, I know that’s bad grammar. Irony people.

Baby talk

It was the grand opening at the store today. We were so slammed with business it was hard to keep up. Now I’m dead tired. Like, can barely keep my eyes open to type tired. It was great that the store was so busy but it was hard work.

Anyway, I cannot stay coherent enough to type out a full post. Instead, here’s a hilarious reminder that toddlers? Mimic everything.

Made me giggle.

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