Being a Lady

Last night, having finished making a (delicious, I’m sure) mango smoothie for a waiting customer, I handed it to her only to realize that my back hurt.  Suddenly.  And a lot.

Of course, being a lady, I did not complain.  I simply continued on with my work, only hunching slightly as I walked.

When I woke this morning, glazed with the stupor that often comes with 6:40 am wake ups, I hardly felt my back at all.  But in statistics I felt it.  Man, I felt it.  I would shift in my chair until I found a bearable position, only to have the pinching in my lower back reannounce itself within a few minutes.

I asked my neighbor if she had ibuprofen.  Nope.

I asked the girls in front of me, who gave me scandalized glares.  Nope.

Finally, unable to take it anymore (yeah, I’m tough), I bolted out of the classroom and down to the Science/Math Division Office, where I practically begged the receptionist for painkillers.  She was lovely about it, luckily, and even offered to give me some for later.

And now, at the pinnacle of the story, I am lying on my stomach, a half-empty bag of frozen veggies propped against my butt.

My roommate has already been in to take pictures of the scene, which will surely be appearing on Facebook shortly.

It’s all very dignified.

Friday Night

Dance Ensemble had their first performance of the weekend this evening.  I arrived for my Higbies shift during intermission, ducking beneath glittering arms and flinching away from heavily-lined eyes, hardly recognizing my friends amongst the intimidating dancers.

Behind the counter, Olivia was glad to see me.  Her forehead shone with sweat, and her sleeves were rolled up.  As soon as the line broke, she bolted, grabbing her backpack and apologizing as she vaulted the low gate.

I watched her retreating figure for a moment, and then reluctantly turned to the first customer in line.  He wanted a mocha.

“No specialty drinks during intermission, sir.  I’m sorry.”

The man frowned, considering his options on the sign behind me.

“I’ll have a mango smoothie, then.”

“That’s a specialty drink.”

He gave me a withering stare and walked away, proceeding to spend the next five minutes bad-mouthing me to his wife, who seemed terribly embarrassed about the entire situation.  Her face might have been even more flushed had she known I could hear everything they said.

Using his starched elbows to push his way through the crowd surrounding the counter, the Student Activities director, Dave, came around to stand next to me.  He claimed sanctuary, taking deep breaths of aquanet-free air.

“I’m on drama duty tonight,” Dave explained.

“Drama duty?  You mean backstage?”

“Yeah.  Apparently some dancers aren’t happy with their choreographers right now.”

“Oh man.”

We stood in silence for a few more minutes, me awkwardly leaning against the pastry case, Dave scanning the horde for signs of rebellion.

When the lights flickered, signaling the end of intermission, he turned to me again: “Call me if you see any bitch slapping.”

“Will do.”


Jazz Fest, besides heralding music through the halls of the Student Center, heralds in people as well: high school students, their parents, alumni, community members, professional jazz performers, etc.

I worked at Higbies this morning, shoveling scones onto trays and listening to the tenors warm up around the corner.

A man came up to the counter, admired the shiny newness of the setup, and then asked,

“Do you serve Caribou Coffee here?”


And then:

“Are you trying to make up for Minnesota’s lack of civilization?”

Let me tell you, friends: I was happy my coworker was there.  She was able to chatter politely with him while I glowered in the corner.

In other (more civilized) news, I got another celebrity autograph today.  I know I’m pathetic, but I can’t help it.  Guess who?

I didn’t meet him, but a friend of mine who “doesn’t give two shits about Josh Hartnett” did.

I’ll take it.

Live from Higbies

I went to bed at 3 a.m. this morning, having finished my paper.

I then slept in until 10:30, padded out to the living room in my sweats and Stanford sweatshirt, and watched cartoons with my roommate and her boyfriend for an hour.  The programmers seemed to know I was there, as they made a point to show both Scooby-Doo and Foghorn Leghorn.

I then proceeded to attend three meetings with my running mate, and brainstorm (and fail to come up with) a title for my paper.

Now I’m sitting at work, letting my coworker hold the ropes while I crank this out.

Going to go contribute now.  See you!

Spring Break Approaching

Today, marked by another accidental sleep-in (although this time I woke up with a solid twenty minutes to spare), a smoothie machine explosion (think crushed ice sprayed in all directions.  A great deal of it landed, of course, in my hair), a lecture that taught me more about earthworms than I ever desired to know, and a ritual bashing of Anne Hathaway in “Becoming Jane.”

But today was also the last full day before Spring Break begins.  I can’t think of a more timely vacation, frankly.  Even though I won’t be partying in Miami or road tripping to Chicago (with my darling roommate), going home is enough for me.  This semester has been more dynamic and difficult and busy and monumental than any I’ve had, and while it’s exciting to be making such important decisions, it also makes me tired.

What I need now is to lie on my own bed at home and work on my story, with my very own dogs clicking around in the kitchen.

On a lighter note, I would like to thank Jeff from “365 Pretty Good Reasons” for his post referencing what I wrote about the MN Marriage Amendment, and recognizing the craziness of blogging every day for a year (boy do I know what you mean).

Thursday in Two Parts

You’ll hear me talk about this a lot, but I’ve always known Thursdays to be spectacular.  There’s just something about them.

Maybe today’s general splendor had to do with the fact that yesterday, a compadre of mine posted on Facebook that he was at the Sherman Alexie meetngreet.  I immediately commented, practically offering him my soul in exchange for an autograph.  And you know what?  I found out today that he got it.  I have yet to see the dear thing, but rest assured, it will soon hang (framed, probably) above my bed.  This is meant to read as inspirational, not creepy, by the way.  I admire him as a writer, you guys.  Yes, I may want to marry him.  But only a little.

Continuing with the spectacular theme (albeit a different kind of spectacular), and for those of you who seem to like my Clumsy Barista sagas a little too much, here’s an incident that happened today:

Someone asked for a Mint Cooler, except they didn’t want coffee in it.  Okay.  White chocolate powder and a few pumps liquid white chocolate into the blender.  Stir with spoon until mixture resembles thick icing.  Then decide to let machine do the work; press ‘blend.’  Machine coughs twice and then comes to a sludgy-sounding stop.  The sticky white chocolate mass has jammed up the blade.  What now?  Clearly we need some liquid in this thing, or it won’t work.  Dump out goo.  Try again with more liquid white chocolate, less powder.  Feel nauseated by the amount of sugar in this drink.  It doesn’t work anyway;  dump into sink, spilling a little.  Girl who ordered this disaster, who is waiting good-naturedly, trying not to laugh, tips me off that when other baristas make this drink for her, they usually just use milk instead of coffee.  Oh.  Milk, white chocolate powder, white chocolate liquid.  Blend.  Perfect.  I give her a few extra Andes Mints on top to make up for her ten minute wait.  Consider eating one myself, but it’s Lent, and some bozo decided to give up sweets.  A rush starts up then, and I am kept busy until my replacement arrives and laughs at my mess: one gummy blender, one counter streaked with white chocolate powder, four Andes wrappers, several dirty spoons, a puddle of whipped cream and a half empty gallon of skim.  I tell her I’ll clean it up.  She looks relieved.


Two Name Tags

I’ve donned two name tags today.  One illegally, one legally.

This weekend is competitive scholarship weekend at my school.  High school seniors come from all over the land to wear their letter jackets topped with carefully practiced nonchalance.  They also carry folders filled with many, many brochures, and branded with the school logo.  I know all this because it’s exactly what I did three years ago.

Witnessing the rebirth of the incoming freshman from behind the counter at Higbies, I decided I wanted to be involved.  Shift over, complementary coffee discarded in favor of bigger ideas, I went downstairs to the Academic Center for Enrichment.  Forgivemeohreaders, but I headed straight for the table in the back, grabbed a marker and a blank name tag, and made myself into an authority figure.  For good measure, I scribbled some of the activities I’m involved in under my name.  For good measure, I also left my work vest on.  Nothing says official quite like black polar fleece with satin stitching.

I then proceeded to give three tours, talk five sets of parents back from the edge of “Good Lord my child is an English major,” and drink a complimentary cup of cider.  All with a forged name tag and an ugly vest.

Later this evening the legitimate name tag came into play.  I had my Orientation Group Leader interviews, before which I was actually invited to make a name tag.  Ironically enough, OGLs are responsible for showing new freshmen the ropes during their first week of college.

So many people apply to be RAs and OGLs that the interviews are split into hour sessions that span an entire weekend.  Twelve applicees interview per session, and six of the twelve are put into each group.  Said groups go to two different rooms to perform two different activities in front of two different panels of reigning RAs and OGLs.  It was intimidating at first to have to discuss and brainstorm and be utterly charming and charismatic in front of fifteen staring panel members, but shock wears off quickly when you’re fighting tooth and nail (albeit charmingly and charismatically) for a job.

In the end, it was a fun time.  I offered to draw the masterpiece that was my group’s vision for the campus in fifty years.  The panel apparently found my stick people inspiring, because they offered me the job on the spot.  I refused, of course; it was only fair.

Good night, and if it makes you feel better; I too am upset that Bon Iver didn’t perform “Skinny Love” on SNL.  And that Channing Tatum isn’t very funny, bless his heart.



Thank You. Have a Nice Day.

I worked my first solo barista shift today.

Cathy looked worried as she put her arm through first one coat sleeve, and then the other: “Are you sure it’s okay that I leave now?  I can stay, you know.  And don’t forget to check the milks every half hour.  When you wash them out you need to WIPE them, Holly.  Really wet the rag down, first, or it won’t do any good.  The pot coffee should be fine; I refilled them at two, but if someone asks, the Breakfast Blend is the freshest because fifteen minutes ago someone bumped the whole container off the shelf, and you wouldn’t believe…”

I shooed her away, happy to be alone before the majesty that is a softly hissing espresso machine and a rack of chocolate and vanilla mixing syrup.  I was sparsely trained, I knew it, but there’s just something about being the ruler of your own domain, the Queen of mango smoothies and cinnamonraisinbagels with cream cheese.

There wasn’t much time to bask in the glow of being onmyown before the three o’clock rush began.  After that, I scarcely had time to wipe the puddle of milk leftover from the economics professor’s white chocolate (no whip) mocha before I was whirling back around to scoop out Sour Patch Kids into a paper bag ($3.00 worth please, avoid the yellow ones).  Then the phone was ringing, and a man was asking for phone numbers.  Small hot chocolate with a shot of caramel.  Large apple cider, leave the cinnamon stick; last time my friend swallowed his whole and almost choked to death in the middle of Spanish.  Phone ringing again, same man, ohI’msorry I meant to call the number you gave me, not your number.  That’s all right sir, it was nice talking to you again.  I recommend the lemon poppy seed muffin over the lumpy-looking apple cinnamon bar.  You’ll take one apple cinnamon bar?  Three fifty.  No I’m not offended.

Thank you.  Have a nice day.  Hi sorry I can’t talk now it’s busy.  Nice to see you again!  Yes, this is my first day.  Salzburg was wonderful!  No, no Julie Andrews sightings.  Hot water with mint teabag.  One scoop dried mango.  Twist, reach for towel, mop at whipped cream explosion that frothed some poor soul’s mocha into

a volcano


couldn’t be


with a lid.

Thank you.  Have a nice day.