Sunday, December 9, 2007

Chanukah gifts so far

1. two vintage ledger drawings (best gift ever) from my mom
2. bowling bag with vintage cowboy levi's ads all over it from my mom
3. black and white square watch from my mom
4. blue (which i swear was green when i opened it) sweater with big buttons from my mom
5. light up twinkle light chile ristra from my mom
6. $25 check in an unsigned card from my grandmother (why didn't she sign the card? also, what's a good thing to get for 25 bucks? i'm taking suggestions. right now i'm think brain age 2 and some honey cranberry goat cheese from whole foods.)

two more nights of presents

also, thanks to trey for coming out and partying and hanging out this weekend, it was super fun. thanks to lissa for hanging more twinkle lights with me on the porch and hanging out.
thanks to lissa and trey for lighting the Chanukah candles with me and my mom on speaker phone, it meant a lot.

happy holidays.

more tv on dvd

my name is earl is a totally awesome show.

Friday, December 7, 2007

a situation i know all too well (from the barista's point of view)

Daddy Needs A Drink: Been Served
By Rob Wilder

Published: December 5, 2007

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Over the Thanksgiving break, my in-laws invaded. Since my niece and nephew had never been to New Mexico before, the eight of us raced around the state, climbing into the ceremonial caves at Bandelier National Monument and hiking through the moonlike landscape of Tent Rocks National Monument. After one outing and before dinner reservations, the kids hankered for some hot chocolate.

“I know just the place,” I said and drove to a boutique chocolate shop that served exotic concoctions in mugs the size of thimbles. Sadly, they had no lids for their teensy to-go cups so we piled back into the minivan and hit my favorite coffee place nearby. My sister-in-law Emily told the kids to stay in the van since time was running shorter than an ADHD kid’s haiku. When we walked in, I saw one vaguely bearded barista by the register while another chatted to a friend at the end of the counter. Their discussion seemed to be philosophical in nature: I heard the word “Persia” followed shortly by “enlightenment” so I guessed that they weren’t confabulating over fantasy football picks.

While our order was not complicated in terms of choices, it was rather lengthy. I judged our server to be new or extremely hungover given that his hands shook as he typed our orders into a computer, then put them on our cups and then as he worked the credit card machine, which refused to recognize the bruise-colored strip on the back of my Visa. I wondered when his colleague would notice and bail the poor guy out. Usually, at these places, there seems to be a two-man game going on: A point man up-sells, rings up and strokes the customer’s ego while the other twists the steam valve, pounds the filter basket and strokes the steam wand on the machine. No such luck. Our guy was in the weeds; kids were getting antsy in the car; and his wingman was now talking about how “we often stray from our path by poor decisions.” No shit, I thought.

Another customer came in and leaned by the register. Bearded barista was elbow deep in coffee, mocha, milk and chocolate that flew in the air like pollen. Even though I have no stake in this establishment, I do frequent it enough to feel some sense of connection. I bring my family here; I’ve dragged my students; I’ve voted for it as “best coffee shop” in a few contests. I’ve even noticed departing workers, new cup designs and the unwavering musical taste of a longtime employee. As I watched the barista struggle and the customer be ignored, a twinge of humiliation ran through my decaffeinated blood. However, I understand how it feels to have a customer tell you the correct way to sweep a floor or open a bottle of wine. In fact, I’d just finished reading Nickel and Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich’s exposé on workers in America, so my sense of outrage had been picketed by my sense of shame.

I bit my tongue as long as I could, but I became surrounded by sympathetic voices: the worrisome workingman with a face full of steam, the snubbed customer, the kids strangling each other by their seat belts in the van. I stepped in front of the budding philosopher and pointed to the snowy-haired man languishing by the place where he forks over his dough.

“Do you need something else?” the philosopher snapped, sending me back to my forgotten path of conspicuous consumer.

I put my hands up in a “no harm/no foul” gesture of diplomacy and watched as he reluctantly took the man’s order and asked his frazzled partner if he wouldn’t mind making the drink.

In the car, I parceled out the beverages, and we weren’t out of the jammed parking lot before my niece let us know that, “This hot chocolate is terrible.”
“Too much philosophy,” Emily said and cranked up the radio.

Robert Wilder’s newest book is Tales from the Teachers’ Lounge.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007