Posts Tagged ‘ pdx ’


I love to complain.

As a human being, I think this is a pretty common condition.

Since I don’t want turn into a sour person as I age, I’ve been working on complaining less, and telling funny stories more. But to convert a whiny complaint into a funny story requires a combination of perspective and time.

Even on my worst days, my life is good. In perspective, I have nothing to complain about, even if work was irritating, I got rained on, had no food to eat, fell off my bike, and got scratched by a cat.

Perspective is a weird thing. It only really works if you combine it with gratitude.

What point is it to acknowledge that other people have it so much worse than you if you can’t be grateful for the things that are better about your life?

(“Oh, I know there are people who have to walk five miles a day for drinking water, but this is AMERICA and I shouldn’t have to take a cold shower, like, EVER.”)

For the last several weeks, I’ve been overwhelmed at how incredibly lucky I am. This season of life is amazing. It has its ups and downs, like any season of life, but really, who am I to complain?

I live in an incredible city, have amazing jobs, co-workers, friends, and family. Every day, my life could be so much worse, and it isn’t.

That’s all, really. I’m grateful for my life and the people who are a part of it.

Here’s a cool photo of Portland for you.

Sunset on Hawthorne.

Sunset on Hawthorne.


Things your Barista is Not.

It has come to my attention that the general public is not quite sure what is in my job description as a barista. To help you, I have compiled this list of Things that Your Barista is Not.

Latte art

Your Barista is Not a Psychic.

You, the customer, must tell me, the barista, what you want. Staring at me as you hold your money out is insufficient. So is telling your friend what you want as you walk into my cafe. Throwing your money on the counter and mumbling “the usual” will not get you what you want if we have never seen each other before.  Expecting me to read your mind will simply result in an awkward conversation and annoyance arising between us.

I might joke about how I went to wizarding school to learn latte art, but reading your mind just wasn’t a part of the training. Sorry. (Not really.)

Your Barista is Not Your Therapist.

Honestly, you can talk to me. We can joke around and be friends, and maybe even have real proper conversations every once in a while. But the moment I start to feel like your therapist is the moment I tune you out, and if it’s ongoing I will probably complain about you later to my fellow coffee people (who are also not your therapist.) I understand if you’re unhappy because of a death in the family, a failing marriage, an argument, or whatever, but really, I don’t get paid enough to be your therapist. Let the coffee be your therapy.

Your Coffee Shop is Not a Dating Service.

Any barista who’s been playing the game for a while can sense the stench of desperation from across the cafe. Feeble attempts like five dollar bill hearts as a tip, “We should text sometime,” or using Harry Potter as a point of mutual interest– all true stories– These might be fine strategies in a normal context (not that I recommend giving five dollar bill hearts to anyone ever,) but in the cafe context they’re just pathetic and inappropriate.

When I’m at work, I’m not on the prowl. That’s all. My job might be more fun than yours, but I’m still getting paid minimum wage plus tips to even talk to you right now, and if you’re the kind of person who’s going to hit on your baristas, I’d never talk to you outside of when I’m getting paid. Please keep that in mind.

Myself, when/if I find you, a customer, an interesting enough person that I want to spend time with you in a normal, outside-of-work context, I will let you know.

Your Barista IS a Fellow Human Being.

As a fellow human being, your baristas deserve the simple courtesy of eye contact and a greeting. I don’t demand conversation, friendliness, joking, or whatever. But it is not that difficult for you to be moderately polite, and it improves my day immensely.

And if you tip, well, now we’re friends.

Things I learned in 2012.

When I was drafting this blog, I was laughing internally because in comparison, the one I wrote for 2011 was so short. It amuses me that 2011 felt like I grew so much, but 2012 was so much more.

So because this list is so long, I’m going to subdivide it into months.


  • Saying goodbye isn’t the hardest thing– living without is.
  • Moving to the Willamette valley in January is a terrible idea. It’s the crappiest weather of the year.


  • Crappy jobs still pay rent.
  • Rich people aren’t good tippers. Actually, rich people are the worst tippers.
  • Getting thoroughly lost can be the best way to learn about a city’s geography.


  • Sometimes the only way to stay sane is to tune out.
  • If you’re willing to be surprised, a good friend can come from anywhere.


  • Unemployment is only scary when it stops feeling like a vacation.
  • Twenty is a surprisingly bummer age to turn. Suddenly adulthood feels like a burden


  • Aim high, be prepared to score low, and you may be pleasantly surprised.


  • Summer in Portland is perfect. 
  • Living in a main street in Portland during the summer… Not so much.


  • Nothing is certain, not even your life.
  • Getting prodded by medical folk gets easier the more it happens. Same with throwing up.
  • Dulaudid is one hell of a drug.
  • Recovery is the hardest part– waiting and wanting to be back to normal, but still sick.
  • In spite of the soap opera-y parts, Friends is an awesome show.
  • Staying hydrated is so much more important than I ever thought. Drink water, people!


  • Bicycling through Portland at night in the summer is amazing.
  • Doctor Who is one of the best TV shows of ALL TIME.
  • Life goes back to normal really easily, even when you’re changed forever and there’s constant turmoil in your brain.


  • Empathy is not a strong trait of mine, except where my sisters are concerned.
  • Every wedding should have dancing. (and dancers.)


  • Important decisions can be delayed.
  • I’m freaking awesome at parallel parking.


  • People who skype in coffee shops make me nervous.
  • Shutting up and listening is important.


  • Feeling rich is still a major fault of mine.
  • Handmade Christmas presents are the best!
  • Distance hasn’t made me love Central Oregon and my people there any less, and time hasn’t made me miss them any less.
  • Even though 2012 was a really tough year, it was a really good year– and it was really important.

And yeah… Fart jokes are still funny.

With that said, I’m really looking forward to what 2013 will hold. I’m making plans to intentionally make it the best year ever.



There is a deep and somewhat personal indignation that fills my heart when a customer, having ordered espresso, takes that espresso and dumps sugar in it without tasting it first.

I seem to remember reading a silly online etiquette guide sometime that said it was the height of rudeness to salt food before tasting it when dining at a friend’s house. It’s considered an affront to the host/ess– an assumption that the food was improperly seasoned.

Well, I feel similarly insulted when customers assume that the exquisite espresso I serve them is not fit for human consumption before making the drink a matter of sucrose to coffee ratios rather than one of simple, pure, delightful coffee.

I understand that not everyone likes espresso, even when it’s good. It’s powerful stuff. But if you don’t like espresso, why didn’t you order a mocha? Mochas are like espresso with training wheels (in the form of chocolate syrup and milk.)

(Recently, I had a customer take a mocha and add a few tablespoons of sugar. To you, sir, I say this: Have fun with your impending diabetes– or just order a hot chocolate or something and stop trying to drown the coffee.)

It may be unfair to think that customers are assuming my espresso is bad. They might not be trying to insult my skills, but rather just be shocked and intimidated by the size, and correctly assume the potency while underestimating its deliciousness.

I haven’t decided whether or not the offence and sorrow I feel at the untasted sugaring of coffees I serve is rational or fair. If it isn’t, I’m pretty sure I don’t care. Even if it’s a wholly irrational sense of insult, I think it’s a noble emotion which I should embrace, because the coffees I serve are freaking delicious and don’t need sugar.

That is all.

(On another note, I’m finally back! Yay.)

The Purple Man

I work in a very strange area. The part of town my primary employment is in is the hip part of town, and it’s Portland, so the hipper one is the weirder one must strive to be (apparently.)

My co-workers lovingly refer to it as the Hawthorne Freak Show.

For the most part, I like it. Anyone who is so into being weird that they make me seem like a mature, together, and reasonable human is all right in my book.

Occasionally, though, I meet a real winner. Last night was one of those times.

Close to closing time, around 9:45, I was talking to a regular about the benefits of listening to music on vinyl versus digital, and someone going by the window caught my eye.

Normally, I wouldn’t give a human male wearing basketball shorts and shoes a second look. But this male was engulfed from head to toe in a vivid purple unitard, complete with facial coverage.

Since I assumed he was simply a hipster who fancied himself a performance artist, I quashed my instinct to get the security guy Tyson when he waltzed into the shop and sat down across from a customer, who looked rather frightened as she asked “Do I know you?” He simply shook his head, stood up, and walked over to the next customers. They were a middle aged couple who found him to be quite droll, and their laughter assured me they were not disturbed.

Then, since he apparently got tired of not talking to the laughing couple and there were no more customers in that direction, he walked over to me, placing his elbow on the counter and his chin in his hand.

“Hi,” I greeted him, pretending not to notice his lack of speaking and severe purpleness, “How’s it going?”

He gave a thumbs up, and then pointed at me, apparently asking the same question. “I’m doing all right,” I responded, “Is there anything I can make for you?”

When he shook his head and continued to stare at me (I guess since his face was pointed at me,) I went on “Okay, well, I’m closing up in a few minutes. Just so you know.”

He nodded, and turned to leave, waving at the still-giggling couple as he left.

Somebody’s parents couldn’t afford mime school…

Mt Hood = Detox.

Today I drove over Mount Hood to Central Oregon.

The sun was shining, traffic was light, and seriously, I don’t think there’s anywhere in the world that can top mountains in the summertime for beauty. Maybe equal, but never exceeding.

So of course I was a responsible driver and didn’t take any photos. Oh well. I saw three accidents on the way out of Portland, so that was a good catalyst to be responsible or something.

The three hour drive was exactly the detox I needed from ten days of work and the crappiest diet you can imagine. For some reason, when I’m being offered a decision between taking pastries home or throwing them away, I can’t stand to waste them.

Therefore, I accept free food and consume it, even if it has zero nutrition and makes my body feel the opposite of good.

Anyway. Lesson learned– my body needs fuel instead of crap, or else I suffer random muscle cramps and spasms, and general feelings of unhealth.

Here’s an awesome song for you.

Two Jobs

Dear everyone:

This week, I am adjusting to having two jobs, which means my schedule is much more busy than I’ve become accustomed to, and that’s part of the reason my blogs are probably going to be short this week and next week.

However I absolutely adore both of my new jobs. I’ve been working once a week or so at Oblique Coffee Roasters. I highly recommend you visit this place if you’re in the Portland area. It’s not a very large operation (yet) and the coffee is terrific. The space is open and inviting with a couple of comfy couches, and every time I’ve been in (even the first time) I’ve had interesting conversations with the owners, who are almost always behind the bar. I love it.

The other place I’ve become employed is the Fresh Pot. This is a rather different job than I’m used to, as there are three locations and the coffee is from Stumptown. The location I work for resides cozily inside the Powell’s Books on Hawthorne. Can you say terrific? I work in a coffee shop inside a book store. It’s like everything I’ve ever dreamed of. The coffee is good quality, my co-workers are friendly, and I also adore this new job.

Yesterday I took the beginner’s training course at Stumptown. I didn’t really learn anything about technique that  I didn’t already know, but it was good to learn a little about the company and also to see the roastery. Since  I’ve only ever worked for small scale roasters, it was really fun to see the other end of the spectrum– as in a giant Probat instead of a small one.

That’s all I have for now.

See you on Wednesday!

%d bloggers like this: