I'm in the midst of an online feud with a certain woman who shall remain nameless. I don't know how or when it started, really — though on my end, it may have had something to do with her telling people I'm not a "real blogger" and that I'm mean to my cat. (Neither of these things make sense, unless dancing and spinning around my apartment until I almost fall over, with Emaline in my arms, counts as mean.) This conflict we have is a pointless and glorious thing; my distaste of her is rivaled only by hers of me, and I am guessing there will be no resolution to this conflict. Situations like this do not give my life meaning or make me feel like I'm very well deserving of the air I breathe, but they sure make things more entertaining. The Internet is a great place to be a grown woman and act like a 5-year-old.
Because what's not to enjoy? Damn. I mean, I'm broke. But I only care a little about that. Every guy I've ever dated has basically been broke, so clearly it's something you can do and still pose as a contributing member of society.
I almost did a backflip this morning when I realized I'd somehow put together enough money to pay my rent for September. Because that's kind of all that matters in the moment. Not getting evicted and keeping my lights and Internet on — and the ability to eat green curry once in a while — are the only real needs I have.
Beyond that, I finally have the luxury to take time and figure out exactly what I want out of my life. Besides green curry.
After I lost my job, I decided to stop worrying so much about what I should do and more about what I actually want to do. Which is something I'm not sure a lot of people let themselves do. I didn't, for a long time. Mostly out of fear of disappointing my mother.
But it's telling that for a long time, when people asked me what my ideal job would be, I couldn't come up with anything more substantial than working at Starbucks and writing in my spare time. I worked at Starbucks once before, a long time ago. It was my first real job — the summer spent tagging mink coats for storage at my neighbors' fur store doesn't count, at least that's the lie I tell myself — and I didn't need the money. I just really wanted to work there. I wanted the green apron. I wanted to be behind the counter.
When I rinsed my hair after a long day, the water ran brown with the oils from the coffee beans and residue from the constant whir of the espresso grinders. I reeked of coffee almost permanently, and my body eventually stopped responding to the effects of the caffeine. But I loved that job.
My favorite shifts were Sunday mornings. My store had just opened, and neighborhood activists were regularly breaking our windows and supergluing the locks, so business wasn't exactly booming yet, so the first few hours after I got in at 7 a.m. were always relaxed, and I took my break around 9:30 — just before the after-church crowd came in.
I sat at a table by the window with a just-steamed chai latte in a big white mug and a piece of now-discontinued Crumbleberry coffee cake, zoning out for 10 minutes and stretching out my arms for another stint steaming milk and pulling perfect shots. That was all the down time I ever needed.
My conversations as people ordered their drinks, paid their money and stood waiting at the other end of the bar were short but always seemed meaningful, a chance to make someone's day in two minutes or less; there was a wonderful familiarity about recognizing people again and again, learning their drink orders and public quirks as they became regulars; and there was always a place for some benevolent snark, giggling with coworkers in secret after customers left: a man who came in and asked for a "Frackacheener" for his daughter, people who ordered French Vanilla cappuccinos when what they really wanted was a sticky-sweet vanilla latte that came out of a one-button dispenser at Quik Trip.
When I closed with my favorite coworker, we turned the sound system up and listened to classical and opera music as we finished cleaning.
I kept my cell phone in the back with my handbag; there was no computer nearby to constantly distract me from what I was supposed to be doing. I wouldn't have needed it anyway.
That's what I want. The feeling I want, anyway — though I still have my aprons. I want to love what I'm doing enough that I'm not constantly thinking, "Where else could I be right now?"
I want the buzz without the jitters. I want to make more people's days, whether it's with coffee or a well-intentioned tweet, a deliriously productive meeting or the best money they've ever spent hiring a copywriter.
I could do also with a little more benevolence in my snark…if it was enough for me before to keep things light and sweet, maybe it could be now, too. The beginning of this post now seems even sillier than it did when I first wrote it. I'm not going to change it, but it's a lot easier now to see that there's…more to things than a Twitter battle of wills, two adults sparring in 140-character increments. Of that much, I'm sure.