Friday, April 27, 2007

I was sitting in the cafe today taking a break. This guy walked in and I recognized him. I've actually known him for probably the last 10 years, our kids were very close at one time, I did a lot of PTA stuff with his wife. I think the only parental thing that she and I did NOT do together was soccer. And where ever she was, so was he, the perfect suburban dad. They really were like the poster couple for apple pie and all that is Right and Good about the PTA. They always seemed shiny and golden and perfect in that regard.

She and I used to be pretty close but drifted apart quickly when our girls went on to upper grades. But at one time, we spoke every day. We used to hang out at her house because she had a pool, or with another mom who was also a good friend, whose daughter hung with ours. We despaired about their never ending girl politics and the constantly shifting dynamics of our daughters' friendships. Time was, they came over for BBQs and the boys would stand over the grill and poke at meat and make concerned noises at it, and drink beers from the cooler. In fact, any time I grill chicken I think of our old bbq parties and how he used to RUSH to the grill and shoo all the women away from it and then soon a small knot of guys would gather around and stare at the steaks and chicken breasts like they were actually doing something very important.

I asked after my friend today. I haven't spoken to either of them in, oh lord, maybe 4 years. He got really quiet then. Said that they divorced, that she moved out of their home. That they split the kids and are doing the best they can to get by. "It's been hard." he said. There was this look in his eyes that I can't describe, except that it matched the one in my eyes, the one that speaks of loss and of how it hurts when those promises you make fall apart. The look that says it is undescribably hard to let go of your dreams of a shared life and future with someone, but that also says you are surviving and maybe even thriving and goddammit you're not beaten and the kids are okay and life goes on.

I showed him my uber-cool new shoes. He laughed. Then he gave me another hug. "It gets easier." he said. "I promise."

It's weird to me that we have this in common at the same time, after so many years. I'm hoping she comes into the cafe sometime. It's a small area. She might. Or maybe I ought to call her. Maybe we can reconnect.

Life goes on for everyone. Nobody stays frozen in time or place. Some things just throw that into stark relief. Even the things you think are "sure" and that are unshakeable. We are all moving forward together at the same pace, even when we're not touching.
"The problem with making latte art is that it is very, very fun. Addictive. What will the foam do?" She asked, her hands shaking, because she'd made a lot of extra latte art that morning and ended up drinking it because no one had actually *ordered* any.

I can has a cheeseburger. Er. New shoes.


Look at the neato sneakers I got yesterday! Though I did not get them at Hot Topic, I got them at Shoe Pavilion for way less so go me. I also didn't know they were at Hot Topic until I went searching for pics online, and by that time they were on my feet so I am just going to deal with the knowledge that soon lots of little scene kids and punx will be wearing my shoes and I will be all the wrong kind of cool. My motivation was pure, I swear. And I find them charming and enchanting, my little grey argyle emo broken hearted bitter divorcee shoes.

I want to chart a broken hearted argyle now and put it on a sweater. It must happen.

Shoe shopping with two teenagers is a trip and a half. We went out on a "we're on a tight budget and you guys need new shoes, so we'll go to Shoe Pavilion and we have THIS MUCH to spend, so don't try to sneak something extra in, ok?"

This turned into an hour long torture session of hunting, searching and negotiation.

"S-chan, you do not need daffodil yellow kitten heeled pumps with peep toes. You need sneakers that you can wear in PE."

"S-chan, you do not need adorable nautical canvas ballet slippers with bows on the toes, you need sneakers that you can wear in PE, get OUT of that row and come over here."

"S-chan, look at these, they have skulls on the... wait. You don't want the skulls? They're trendy. Uh huh. You wouldn't be caught dead in these poser shoes." *eyes child clad in bondage belt, skully tights, slashed up mini, ripped up concert tee, and pink hair* "But you have skulls on your ti... your... oh. That's different. Um. How is that different?"

"S-chan, you do not NEED red wedge heels with kicky ankle ties. For FUCKS SAKE child, all you ever wear is black and ripped and those shoes match NOTHING IN YOUR CLOSET. That's not the point? What is the point? The point, child, IS THAT YOU NEED NEW SHOES FOR P.E."

"Fine. Get over here and get a plain pair of black chucks and... I DO NOT CARE IF THEY ARE ALSO TRENDY POSER HOT TOPIC PUNK SHOES, GET OVER HERE AND TRY THEM ON... I will buy you the nautical canvas ballet slippers if you do. No, I won't buy you the yellow kitten heeled peep toes too. Chucks. Now. Patience. Thin."

"Em, thank you so much for waiting so patiently with your little skully slip ons that you picked out FORTY MINUTES AGO while your sister was being such a pain in my a.... what? Yes. Yes it's only fair that you get canvas ballet slippers too if S is getting a pair. Fine. Go pick some out. You can have two pairs of shoes too. It's all equitable."

"Okay. Are we all set? Wow am I ever glad we came to this cheap shoe store for an easy quick trip to buy you guys one pair of cheap sneakers."

"OOOH! Canvas broken hearted emo sneakers! BITTER DIVORCEE SHOES!!!! I MUST HAVE THEM!"

I really don't know where my oldest child gets her impulsive shoe buying/wanting from, like at all.

Now to chart me some broken hearted argyle... Maybe I'll start with socks to match the shoes.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

"Only two things are infinite. The Universe and human stupidity. I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein

What Albert said.

Today we continue our coffeehouse series with a couple of common gaffes made by coffeehouse patrons.

1. Get. Off. Your. Cell. Phone.
Please. I mean, really. Would you sit and yack on the cell phone while engaged in conversation with someone you considered to be an actual person? Wait, don't answer that. This is LA, after all, land of the cell phone in inappropriate places. Okay ace, here's the deal. It's rude to engage in a phone conversation while simultaneously engaging in a real-time face to face interaction. So put the phone down. Or, if you can't, simply excuse yourself to the person on the other end of the line, order, pay, and then resume your discussion. It helps if you say "Excuse me." to your barista as well. It makes us feel like real people who are worthy of consideration. It makes us feel less like leaping over the counter and shaking you like a bad, bad donkey, ok?

2. Please and Thank You! Not just for books and television anymore!
There are a few key phrases that are really helpful when dealing with other human beings. One of them is "please" and the other is "thank you." When you use the word "please" this indicates that you are making a respectful request that someone do something for you. It indicates your appreciation of this act beforehand and acts a little bit like WD40 in terms of greasing the interaction along smoothly. "Thank you." is commonly used at the end of an interaction in which someone has given you something or done something nice for you. It indicates that you appreciate what has been undertaken on your behalf. It means that you don't take it for granted, like a big AllAboutMe McEntitlementPants. It's also something that reflects well on one's parents and indicates positive things about one's upbringing in general. You don't want people to think you were raised in a barn, do you?

3. Tip. Just like you would in a restaurant. It means that my kids get organic soymilk on a regular basis because you can't imagine that I make enough to pay rent and feed my children at this job, can you?

This concludes today's Notes From Your Barista. There will be a pop quiz.

In other news, I am so nearly done with that st st sock I started in Lorna's "Iris" lo these many moons ago. I am making it a point to knit daily. And I am mentally preparing myself to be gungho and make it to the WeHo SnB this Thursday instead of staying home like a big hermity knitting thing.

Have y'all seen that Crazy Aunt Purl wrote a book??? I bought mine. Where's yours? Go, go, buy your copy now! She like totally cracked the top 50 on Amazon yesterday. It's really very exciting!

ETA: I should like to add that I worked 3 hours of overtime today. Yes, that's right. I worked from 6:30 this morning until 5 this evening and we don't get to clock out for lunches or take breaks (we do take breaks, just not 15 minute breaks where we can chill - if customer comes in, we have to get up and help them. Meh.) I am very, very, very tired. Happily, the majority of my customers in the afternoon seem to have studied and they all said please, thank you and tipped very nicely. Go them!

We're having take out for dinner, hell yes we are.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Buh. The only way out is through, right? Tonight I have a couple of choices. The ex Mr. YP is coming over for dinner with the kids and I am trying to decide - do I stay home and watch one of my Netflix, or do I go off to the WeHo SnB and meet some new local knitters and be out and social? I am truly torn.

On one hand, I'm tired. I was at work at 6:30 this morning and I haven't had more than about 5 hours of sleep at a stretch all week. I'm stinky cos it was hot, I've been out and about in traffic all afternoon running errands and more driving sounds hideous. On the other hand? Knitters... farmers market... yarn... that sounds like so much fun! I think I need to branch out of my little cocoon a little bit. Maybe actually interact with people.

But here's the thing. I'm afraid of a room full of new people. I don't know if I feel brave enough for a room full of strangers tonight, even if they are all knitters. Maybe I'm not the best company, tired, stinky, depressed, shlumpy thing that I am this week. See, here I am talking myself out of it. It's such a long drive. Strangers. Blah, blah, blah. I'm really good at talking myself out of it and I am afraid and sad and being around people lately just seems to make me so much sadder.

Realistically, I work tomorrow and that means a 5:30 alarm. The smart thing would probably be staying home. And I am really so, so tired. And here's where being so tired and the apathy are starting to be dangerous. I realized today that I can't remember the last time I went into my yarn stash or got into my fiber/spindles and made yarn. I have a sock half finished on needles that I haven't touched. The painter's scarf is still half done and I want to finish it. They are just sitting in my backpack. I am just not getting any knitting time. I'm not *making* any knitting time. Or pottery time. Me time. All I do is work.

When J moved out, I got really scared about money and I stopped a lot of things. I stopped splurging in yarn stores, for one, and online for yarn. I stopped having my hair done. Stopped going to the MAC counter. Stopped buying new clothes. No shoes. I've been buying cheap shampoo, I've been really really stingy with myself. I have tried really hard not to let this impact my kids at all, so they still have internet, cable, we still get takeout that they like sometimes, I still try to give them spending money and make sure they have extras. I don't want them to suffer because their dad and I couldn't make our marriage work. Their dad is helping, don't get me wrong, I'm not all on my lonesome, but it is tight and there's no getting around that fact. So the one who has done without has been me. Hell, even the animals are still getting organic fancy food and designer litter.

Ya know what I realized about all that? I feel old and grey and unattractive on most days. And poor. And depressed, every time I look in my mirror. Because maybe I've denied myself a little too much. So today I said "fuck the budget" and went to LUSH to buy soap because it is one of the few things that I still allow myself to spend money on. And while I was at it, I got a large bottle of my favorite shampoo, conditioner and a bath bomb. Er. Two. And blueberry face mask. I will probably have to juggle a few things around financially now to cover this but honestly, I can actually cover it. Yes it means saying no to something else, but I can do that. Maybe it will be worth it. We'll see. I'm not sorry I spent the money on myself. I am considering shelling out for a haircut. Anything to make me feel less like frump girl. Maybe it's okay to use the good shampoo even if I'm a single mother now. Maybe it won't land my kids in the poorhouse.

I'm still on a yarn diet though. My stash is plentiful.

So I think probably I'll skip the SnB this time around, I really just lack sufficient force to get past my own inertia. I'm leaning towards making an actual good dinner that is not a. hummus plate b. salsa and chips (yes, that's a frequent dinner around here) c. TJ's frozen teriyaki chicken. A healthy dinner? I can do that. A bath, I can do that too. Maybe I'll feel up to the SnB next week. Maybe making a little time just to eat well, enjoy my new bath goodie and treat myself to a full night of sleep is a good first step on the road back to knitting, creativity and friends.

It's a step, anyway, where ever it goes.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Today is hard. There's just no way around it, today is one of the hard ones.

I'm lonely. You know? Sad. I am not loving my un-married-ness today. I think this is one of the aspects of divorce that you have to go through, whether you are poly or monogamous or what have you. I think it's part of mourning the primary relationship that is gone and realizing that you really are not primary to anyone anymore.

I would like to have someone around to give me a hug.This isn't about sex (though I certainly wouldn't mind some quality time with my cute Ukranian boss and a big can of whipped cream, er, wait I digress) this is about just feeling a little cut off of basic human contact. Sad that my marriage didn't work out. Sad that nobody is coming home tonight. Sad that I will make dinner for my kids and then go to bed alone with the dog and sad that when I wake up, nobody will kiss me good morning. That nobody is happy to see me in that special way today or worried about whether or not I ate breakfast or took my meds (I forgot) or any of a million different things. That no one cares the way that someone who lives with you, breathes with you, knows you, cares.

I know that this will pass, sooner rather than later, and it is all part and parcel of the process. I'm okay with that. I chose this process and it was for the best. I am not saying that anyone is doing anything wrong or that I made a mistake. I just feel the loneliness rather acutely today, is all.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Spent most of Sunday curled up on the couch watching a Shirley Temple marathon on AMC, recovering from the Bee Incident and knitting on my boring old st st sock that I've got going. I'm nearly done with #1 and am getting some interesting flashing on the leg, though it striped rather nicely on the foot. Not sure what changed, but whatev, it's coming along nicely. I often think I should knit more interesting things, I know I should post more pictures, it's just that lately I haven't a lot of interesting knitting subject matter going on and that's sad.

I've decided to go back to school next fall. Some things have fallen into place for me and it really does seem like now is THE time to go back and finish my schooling or else I'll be forty and barista-ing for just over minimum wage and as much as I love the java scene, I'd rather progress to something a little more long term, secure, and well, MINE. I had been going to school as a history major/undergrad, so that I could continue on to get my MLS, and I am honestly at the place where I think it is time to let go of that goal. I simply don't have the time or resources to do it what with two kids starting college over the next few years and frankly, I'm not so sure it's what I want anymore. I've always had a little dream of being a shopkeeper in my secret heart of hearts, it was always the thing I'd think of when I'd start my "what if's" and maybe it is wiser to work towards that goal. More fulfilling. I *love* working in the shop and I love working at the cafe and I am really, really good at working with people. I'm good at selling them things and making them happy, whether it is coffee, olive oil or something else. So as much as the maths horrify me, I am seriously pondering the idea of going back and using what GE I have accumulated towards finishing a degree in small business. I'm thinking maybe I want to open a little yarn shop, depending on what things look like in a few years, and I'd like to try working for myself but with the actual proper tools to make a go of things. It's a scary thought, but in a good way - it feels right and hopeful. I don't think I'm too jazzed about the actual business classes, frankly, I'm more into art and history and FUN, but the business classes could just be the means to an end of a life that IS full of art and fiber and fun, and there's no reason why I can't take history classes just for the fun of it while I'm slogging through the maths and statistics.

On one hand, I'm afraid to speak to it here because what if I jinx it? On the other, maybe speaking to it here will make it more real and set my feet more firmly on a path that has been (until now) labeled "pipe dream, do not tell anyone or they will laugh."

This continues to be a real year of change, but I think it may end up being one of the best years of my life if I simply pay attention, work hard and try to learn the lessons life keeps putting in front of me. It may be that I only have the attention span to knit boring socks for the duration, but that's ok. There's an awfully shiny and creative future/reality at the end of this stretch of road.

Friday, April 06, 2007

A True Story. At my Other Job.

In which our heroine encounters an actor whom she has long admired, well known for his role as Dr. Frank n Furter, as well as many other fine movie and television roles. This venerable actor walked in to my store today, to peruse the wonders within. He was relaxing and having a happy day. Little did he know he had wandered in to CRAZY BEE GIRL land.

Let me set the stage. See, it is early, I am alone in the store. I am flustered, I am faxing documents east on a deadline, I am getting bombarded with calls from teh plumber, I am harried, I rush out of the office and notice "guy in a grey sweatsuit." and sorta "floomph" against the counter fanning myself with a piece of paper and say, "Wow. Ya ever have one of those days?"

And then the penny drops, OMGPONIES TIM CURRY IN MY STORE TIM CURRY OMG.

And he says, "OH yes indeed."

In that Voice. Because the man? He has Voice.

And I lose all power of thought and speech and I'm just, er, buh. Can't talk. Hyperventilating now. Timcurryinmystore.

So he walks over near our display of honey body balms and other wonderful botanicals, and is examining them and I walk over to him, intending to say, "Ah, yes. These wonderful honey botanicals, so fragrant, made by nuns! When we uncap the bottles and spritz the store, they are so fragrant that bees fly into the store looking for the source of the smell. Reallywonderful stuff Mr. OMGPONIES Curry." and perhaps demonstrate the botanical wonders within by inviting him to try something balmy.

What came out of my mouth was, "That'll give you, er, bees."

Let us recap. "That'll GIVE YOU BEES." I said. Bees. I am IN my store, less than five feet from one of my favorite actors ever, and I tell him he'll catch a nasty case of bees from our lotion.

Something tells me he's never coming into our store again as long as he thinks Crazy Bee Girl might be working there. Possibly longer.

I think I win. I'm not sure what, but I win.

I probably should not be allowed in public or to talk to people, which is funny considering I work both in retail and as a barista, both jobs requiring some amount of coherence and snappiness and you know, use of the language.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

we etch foam roses
in velvet golden crema.
later, the jitters.
...
commuters hurry
twenty ounce soy cap to-go,
dry.
barista's nightmare.
....
text messages fly
like birds caught in winter winds
five cents a minute.

....
Some days, the cafe gets a little bit slow and the mind, it wanders.

Monday, April 02, 2007

The Handsome Cabin Boy and I went off and saw 300 last night and all I can say is yay rippling pectorals. That was some awfully yummy, oiled up manflesh er, really nifty Gerard Butler in leather briefs! cinematography. Well done adaptation of the comic, et bravo. I do not feel as if my $11 was wasted.

So I've been thinking. There are a few "types" who tend to patronize the cafe on a daily basis. Some of them are regulars who come in every day, and some of them are just archetypes, the faces vary, but the theme remains the same.

The Young Mom/Mr. Mom (baby in stroller) this denizen of the neighborhood cafe never stays very long. She always gets her soy vanilla chai latte in a "to go" cup, ditto whatever pastry she's trying to enjoy. Usually spends her brief cafe respite chasing toddler away from stage and draperies, saying, "NO." Depending on age of child, might order a "kid's hot chocolate" which we don't actually offer on the menu, but I am happy to make. Notable because of sheer amount of bagel or pastry crumbs left in lounge after fussy baby/toddler means mama has to pack up latte and go. Usually wearing designer yoga pants, has dark circles under eyes, and a short sassy haircut, while baby is sporting latest looks from BabyGap. If Dad, somewhat frazzled look in eyes, uncombed hair and untucked shirt, no latte or pastry, just a large black drip coffee and baby in interesting mismatched collection of things that are probably from BabyGap but were never meant to be worn together.

The Commuter Revs up to sidewalk in late model SUV, always orders something fussy and a complete pain in my ass like a skim half caf latte extra foam or a large dry soy cap*, is dressed to the nines and in a hurry. Often approaches counter while talking on cell phone.

The Student will hang out in the lounge for an entire day, studying, and buy one cup of coffee and a bagel with cream cheese, and they are so quiet that you forget they are there. Or, they are special snowflakes and want the music turned down and vegetarian substitutions on their Himalayan Roast Beef. Women's Studies majors nearly always fall into the latter category, at least in my experience.

The Slacker is actually usually (under)employed. Pays for small drip coffee in coins of small denominations. And lint. Takes five minutes to figure out what on menu they can afford. Usually ends up scoring with a large drip coffee (OOPS, I gave you a large cup. Oh darn.) and is directed to secret stash of $1 day old pastries because barista has fellow feeling and knows what goes around comes around. The Slacker always tips really well when he/she has money to spare, and then hangs out and provides amusing conversational diversion after.

The Uuuuummmmmmmm.... Can't Make Up Her Mind Has no idea what he/she wants. Asks annoying questions about everything and then ends up just getting a Red Bull. Should go to another coffeehouse down the street and stop ordering things in "grande" and "venti" sizes because this is not That Other Place.

There are more. These are just the ones I can think of for now. Working in a coffeehouse is a lot of fun and also a real study in human nature. You do a lot of people watching from behind that steam wand.

**soymilk does not foam. A cap is mostly foam, a little milk and a shot. A dry cap is ALL foam and a shot of espresso. A 20 oz dry, soy cap, that is a nightmare. That is several chisterns worth of steaming, sheer damn luck and a lot of bad words muttered at the steam wand.