Hallowgreedy

I was so excited when my evening class’s instructor said we should leave early. We got out at seven. I got home at eight (ignore that time stamped above, it’s 8:21, not 7:21). “But, Courtney,” you ask, “doesn’t it usually take you about twenty minutes to get home from school?”
Why, yes it does, dear reader.

But tonight Meridian Street – which I now take home rather than Penn or Washington because of the creepy goings-on at night – was backed up due to all the people stopping in the middle of the street to let their kids out at the “nice houses” for trick-or-treating.

In this area the times set for collecting candy (by whom and for what reason, exactly, I don’t know) were 5pm to 7pm. Of course, no one used to go out before it got dark when I was a kid. And, of course, no one paid attention tonight to the set times and proceeded to drive their children up and down Meridian Street in flocks to collect their sugary snacks.

I was livid by the time I got home. It didn’t help that I got my midterm back from my literacy instructor and I got less than an A; something I have never done in an English class before. If it wasn’t someone slamming on their brakes in front of me because they saw a “fancy” house, putting on their flashers and unloading a gaggle of seven-year olds, it was the idiots behind me trying to pass between me and the aforementioned brake-slammers. Charlie didn’t get a nap because the dogs were going crazy. He already left for work and will be home in about 12 hours if he’s lucky, thanks to inventory at the end of the month at the bar. It wasn’t because we had a lot of trick-or-treaters that he didn’t get a nap. Oh, no, our house isn’t nice enough, apparently. It was due to all the kids who passed by our house, but screamed at the top of their lungs for no apparent reason. Charlie said he sat with the door open for two hours and only a few children came to our door. The really big houses have good candy, kids, not those crappy duplexes. Just pass them by.

Now I know why we never got trick-or-treaters when we lived on “the other side of College Avenue;” all our former neighbors drive their children around for sweets. They don’t stick around their own neighborhoods. A few years ago the only knock on our door came at 10:30 at night. It was two fifteen-year old kids. I told them I didn’t have any candy and apologized. The next morning I found our two pathetic little pumpkins had been smashed to bits and our outdoor candles broken in half, littering the yard.

A few bad apples always manage to spoil it for the bunch. Only in this case I didn’t see any “good apples.” Just the ones with razor blades in them.

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Drift by My Window

I just finished my last midterm paper, on All Quiet on the Western Front. Now I’m depressed because it was such a horrifying book. This ended up only being three pages because we have to write another paper on it in a few weeks. The paper I wrote for my English course ended up being only five, and my exam for history, seven. I still haven’t gotten up the web site for the second project in my online class. I’m really over that whole course. It felt like it was going to be really easy and kind of fun, but there are so many little requirements that I keep forgetting about . . . I guess that will be my big work this weekend.

Sunday we’re going to a little Italian place on the west side with Jennifer and her boyfriend (fiance?). They have the best creamy garlic salad dressing but I don’t think any of us have been there since the ’90s. Seriously. I think I took Charlie there sometime in early 2000. Jennifer was going to bring up Julie this Thursday but Julie’s mom has decided there are “too many questions” when Julie comes to my house. Imagine that. A person with obsessive compulsive disorder having questions.

We made plans to finally go to the IMA, a museum I don’t Charlie has ever seen. They have an exhibit right now from the Louvre that’s all Roman art. I’d really enjoy seeing that. Can you take cameras? I don’t know.

We went for a walk yesterday evening so I could take some photos of all the autumn leaves. Whenever I say that, the song starts running through my head. It’s been rather chilly here lately, especially considering how hot it was just a couple of weeks ago.

Tomorrow’s going to suck for both of us. I have to close tonight, open tomorrow, then go to both classes until 9pm. I read my midterm aloud in English, it’s Halloween, and Charlie has to close and do inventory. Which means I’ll probably be up and walking the dogs when he gets home from work. Maybe that’s the day I should start really working on my new site? It’s ended up being the genealogy one (my instructor didn’t want me to do another profile site – I was just going to put one up for Cavan), and my aunt sent me some really great photos of everyone. I need to make thumbnails out of them and figure out how to create an actual “tree.” I haven’t heard anything back from my dad in terms of ancestors, so I might just end up doing three or four generations. Lazy, huh?

Right now I just feel like laying down and taking a nap. I’ve been doing that a lot lately. I never used to be much of a napper – what’s the point of going to sleep if you can’t sleep for as long as you want? But I’ve just been getting in a twenty minute catnap here or there. I probably shouldn’t do that today since I have to be up at 5am tomorrow.

Two Positives Followed by Fifty Negatives

espresso barI had a bad morning yesterday and Friday at work. After those last two posts where I had only nice things to say, I have to take several steps backward.

Friday morning immediately started out on the wrong foot when I noticed every single one of our ground coffee bags was too fine.

We have this new-ish person who’s been working at our store, someone who usually works at the downtown locations, and I think she had a customer who requested a pound of coffee ground for espresso Thursday at some point. We have two grinders – one can be set for whatever the customer needs (it looks a lot like those ones you see at the grocery store) and the other is purely for our machines. It’s big and imposing-looking. The grind must always be on a certain setting and it should never be moved. Our owner can come in and taste a cup and know immediately if the coffee has been ground too coarse or too fine. So there’s masking tape all over the front of that machine with big, black letters written in a Sharpie saying “Grind Set for Coffee of the Day — DO NOT MOVE” and so on.

How she managed to use the wrong one is beyond me. Every coffee shop I’ve ever worked at or been in has two grinders. At least, from what I recall. One is only for that which you brew in the store and the other is for everything from french press and percolators to espresso. Of course I am talking about the person who put liquid dish soap (like Joy instead of Cascade) in the dishwasher one morning and I found myself in what appeared to be a slapstick comedy or cartoon as I was fighting back bubbles with the mop for twenty minutes in an effort to clean it all up. In this girl’s defense she hasn’t been at our store that many times and I’m sure it’s hard to get used to working all these different places. I have been with the company for two years and three months and I have yet to work at another store. I can’t imagine how many things there are to remember.

However, even if she had adjusted the wrong grinder, someone else (someone who will remain nameless but who has been with the company longer than I have) proceeded to go through about 25 bags of coffee without once noticing how fine it was. I noticed it as soon as I picked up a bag to brew the first pot of coffee Friday morning. The grind for our regular brews is pretty coarse. When you hold a bag it’s sort of crunchy. These felt almost like they have liquid in them, they were so soft. Audrey and I had to go through and dump out every single bag, then grind more. She put even more masking tape over the machine and wrote in even bigger letters.

As she was working on that I was on the bar, making drinks and ringing people up. A little, disgusting brown cockroach came scuttling out from underneath the espresso machine at me. I screamed a little bit, out of surprise more than a girlish fear of bugs! and tried to kill it without anyone noticing. I was unsuccessful.

Next was the constant barrage of questions about What’s Going On? We’re doing some remodeling at the store and I really have no idea what they’re going to change. Okay, that’s not completely true, but I’m so sick of people asking me that I’ve begun telling them I don’t know. Audrey and I both have rather short tempers when it comes to The Questions Customers Have, and they have a lot. So we were both irritated by the time Matt got there.

Remember when I was asking you for ideas about the employee photographs? I’d have a dozen people in a morning asking “And where’s your picture?” It’s like that, only it’s just something else. And I know for a fact that several people have asked me more than once and have overheard people who’ve asked me what’s going on, asking the same of another employee. So, to be a jerk, I purposefully withhold what little information I have. But it’s like they want blueprints posted up in the store so they can see what it’s going to look like. And this is only one thing they obsess over. If it’s not that, it was the photographs. Before that it was the new awning out front. Before that it was the new tables and chairs outside. People ask where we got things, how much they cost, when they were done, what else is going to happen. It’s like they’re obsessed with getting as much out of every person as they possibly can and that they’re freaked out by any small change. I feel this only provides more evidence my theory that a lot of our customers are OCD.

I’m reminded of when I worked at the used bookstore and customers would simultaneously treat us like idiots and expect us to be a resource for all their ridiculous questions. I don’t know if people confused bookstore with library and thought we weren’t just a retail shop but also an information center, but it sure felt that way. And keep in mind, when I worked there the longest we didn’t even have an Internet connection, so there was no way for us to just look up this stuff for people.
“Where’s the closest Greek restaurant?”
“How late is the mall open?”
“What’s the phone number for Barnes and Noble?”
“Can you see if Borders has that book, then?”
“How many miles is it from here to downtown?”
“How long will it take me to get to Bloomington from here?”
“Who’s going to be on Oprah today?”

And my personal favorites:
“Where’s the closest real bookstore?”
“What’s the name of that book, by that one guy, you know, the one who was on that show talking about it? It’s red, I think.”
“Why can’t you look up what you have in stock?”

Since we were a USED bookstore and bought only USED items from the public, it would have been nearly impossible to keep a catalog of what we had in the store.

But I digress. A bit.

Then, while I was counting down the drawers, I discovered we were something like twenty dollars short. This has happened occasionally in the past but always seems to stop when “certain people” would quit. But that morning had been me, Matt, and Audrey, and I know for a fact that I can trust each of us. I counted through everything four times and still couldn’t find it. Coincidentally, on our last paycheck was stapled a note from the office stating that any register discrepancies would now be the responsibility of whomever was ringing people up during that shift. Just like when I was at Starbucks, any difference of $5 or more, two or three times, and you’d be fired. Great.

When I was ready to give up and start crying I noticed a twenty dollar bill stuck under one of the register drawers. Argh.

When I got home Friday Charlie and I were discussing this new scab Trinity has on her nose. It was – and I shit you not – raised up a good 1/2 of an inch off her nose. That doesn’t sound like much, but it is. It was perfectly round and about the size of a dime in circumference. We had just noticed it appear out of nowhere two days prior to that when we realized she had pulled the entire scab off. She now had a big, red, oozing, infected-looking sore. It was super-gross. So then we’re discussing what the hell to do with her. Is it a tumor? Can we get her in to see the vet? Is it really infected? Is her face going to rot off?

I’m Googling dog, nose, scab, ooze and so forth and look up the hours for our vet which, as it happens, are only 9-12 on Saturday mornings. Charlie has to work Friday night and has plans to see a Purdue football game with his dad on Saturday. It’s 9pm on a Friday night and I have no one to call who isn’t guaranteed to be drunk or who I know for a fact won’t answer their phones. So Charlie has to get up extra early in the morning to call the vet and try and get her in.

So while I was at work Saturday morning I was all stressed out, feeling guilty that he would miss the opportunity to go to this game with his dad. He’d already said “Man, I can’t remember the last time I went to a football game with my dad!” All excited. So I felt like a big jerk and was calling everyone on our phone list to see if they could come in for me for just two hours.

Charlie got an appointment for Trinity at 9:45 and Matt actually came in for me around 10. I was able to meet Charlie, switch out dogs and cars, and he got to the game in time. Trinity was only suffering from the world’s worst case of ringworm and the vet bill wasn’t too expensive. I wrote my paper for Monday’s midterm and even managed to Murphy’s Oil Soap the entire house. So I guess it all turned out okay in the end . . . ?

Another Beautiful, Yet Somewhat Disturbing, Moment

Liz and I shared a tender, not-so-typical-of-us moment today. Once every couple of weeks or so, if she’s on this side of town for a case we’ll grab lunch. Today we went to Patachou to visit Annie and have soup and sandwiches. When we got back we ended up sitting outside for quite some time, complaining about previous toxic relationships we’ve had with other women. Not hot, girl-on-girl action, just friendships that have ended badly and left both of us feeling used or abused in some way. We both haven’t dealt with those breakups well and I was bitching that I don’t want my negative feelings towards another person or situation to affect me in any way. That way, it’s like they won because I feel as if I haven’t moved on.

I said at one point that I don’t find enough satisfaction in the knowledge that the other person’s fragile – and rather made-up, it seems – existence is hanging on by a thread. Liz said we can’t let these feelings own us; we just have the thoughts and then move on. Don’t dwell, that kind of thing.

Then I told her that sometimes it feels as though she’s one of the only people I can trust (don’t worry, Jennifer and Annie, I mentioned you, too), and then next thing you know it’s like we’re sharing some fucking General Foods International Coffee moment and we’re both hugging and crying.

It was completely out of character for the both of us and cannot be attributed to menstruation in any way, despite what some of you guys might say.

But I think it was nice. Charlie says Liz and I have a “Dude Relationship.” We talk when we talk; we call when we call. There isn’t a lot of expectation on either side to fulfill parts of our lives that someone else isn’t meeting. Sometimes women I’ve been friends with in the past put a lot of pressure on me to perform in every way: I’m expected to listen, give advice, be thoughtful, be respectful, like the boyfriend when they like him, dislike the boyfriend when they dislike him, mother their kids or their pets, know their family, be friends with their other friends, don’t be negative or take up too much time, don’t have too many problems of my own, don’t ask too many questions, just ask “the right questions.”

I feel as though I can’t always keep up with the unspoken rules some women have of each other. But with Liz it’s never hard. She doesn’t have any.

Something Beautiful

I saw something beautiful last night. I was closing the store and Sarah showed up to finish some paperwork and told us to come outside. To the east of the store there was a huge, delicate rainbow shooting straight across the city. To the north was a Maxfield Parrish sky; all purple and pink with soft clouds.

Like standing at the ocean’s edge at night, it was a humbling experience. It made me feel insignificant and connected to everything at once. I thought “Everyone else that’s looking up at this at the same time is feeling the same way I am.”

I just wish I’d had my camera with me.

Not a Whole Latte Love

CoffeeOn Sundays I get up earlier than most people, walk and feed the dogs, get some coffee, and buy stuff to make a big, usually unhealthy, breakfast. With Cavan gone and Charlie working as the assistant manager at the nightclub, I wondered if I would continue this tradition. Charlie sent me a text message around 6am to say he was on his way home. I want to make sure he gets enough sleep. When Cavan was still living with us he would generally get up around 10 and when Charlie wasn’t working so late, he’d be up maybe an hour after that. We’d all have biscuits and gravy or a sausage-egg-hash-brown-and-cheese casserole, orange juice, and coffee.

I did sleep in a bit today, though. I got up a little after eight and puttered around, cleaning out the fridge and having some tea rather than coffee. But then the caffeine headache started up so I decided to get some coffee anyway. When I got to the store all three male employees we have were working. For some reason, this puts people off. They like the girls to be working. When it was me, Annie, and Audrey working every Saturday morning together, people liked to say it was the All Star Team. I attribute our Saturday morning success to a shared attribute: anxiety. All three of us get nervous when it gets busy and we kick it in to high gear. We each could pound out drinks one after another and people were always thrilled not to have to wait too long, and to be greeted in a friendly manner, regardless of the fact that there was a line to the front door.

The guys operate with a slightly less-frenzied pace and are not always as pleasant as they could be to our regulars. They make fun of us for being too high-strung and moving too fast. But it’s not the kind of anxiety that makes me sick or that I bring home with me when I clock out. It’s temporary. Annie called it a Sense of Urgency and it was something she wanted all of us to exhibit. Except not all of us care to.

The store wasn’t too busy when I arrived but John was on the bar with about three drink orders and it looked like he was already starting to freak out. Mark was there, our newest employee; a sweet guy who’s sober as a judge but who you’d think was stoned out of his mind all the time. Matt was running back and forth between the register and the coffee maker. Apparently it wouldn’t stop brewing and had been pouring water for about fifteen minutes before I got there. I was patiently waiting for John to finish his orders so I could hop on an make myself something but Matt’s concern over the coffee machine concerned me. I checked the brew and two lights were on: the one to start a half brew and the one for a full pot. But the emergency stop button wasn’t lit up. I poured out as much of the brown water that was filling up the pot as I could then hit the half-brew button. The emergency stop light came on and I hit it. The machine stopped brewing. Matt was happy.

I went back by the bar and John snapped “Do you need in here?” I said no, I wasn’t in a hurry or anything. Then two customers came up to me. One asked if I was coming in to work, and he seemed to be hoping more than just asking. The other asked if I was there to train the guys. I think a couple of them overheard this and I felt bad. I made myself a small coffee and just left.

I really wish the guys I worked with wouldn’t get so upset while they’re there. One of them takes every slight personally, one could care less if he was there, and the other just doesn’t seem to get it. And I wish people didn’t make them feel crappy for not being The Girls.

Mornings like this make me think perhaps I should work more often on Sundays. But I like having them off. It’s a good day to get caught up on homework and one of the only days of the week Charlie and I actually have off together, despite his needing to sleep. It makes me feel good to know people think I do my job really well, but it is just a coffeeshop. The regulars are spoiled. Most everyone that works there has been with us well over a year – some two or three – and we know their drinks. But only a couple of us have the drinks ready by the time the customers are finished paying. They want this to happen every day they come in. Sometimes it’s just impossible for any of us to do that, though, and people get really impatient. Even at their slowest, most of my coworkers are faster than the kids I worked with at Starbucks – and they use super-automatic machines with steam wands that automatically shut off at 160 degrees. There isn’t a whole lot of barista-ing involved in working at a Starbucks.

I think if this mild inconvenience – this extra 60 second wait – is the worst part of your day, you should step back and take stock in what’s important to you. Try and be a little nicer to the guys who aren’t as good at multi-tasking. If you feel the service isn’t that great, no one’s forcing you to tip.

Reorganizing

Charlie and I spent the past two days moving stuff around after Cavan’s departure. First we loaded up the truck with a ton of Goodwill donations that have been piling up in the TV area upstairs.
TV Room

Then I cleared out a bunch of books from downstairs and color-coordinated the shelf. All the orange, red, and yellow books together. All the black covers on the shelf with the beige and white. The bottom is all blues and most of my Anne Rice collection; something I started back in the early ’90s and am now ready to just get rid of. Some are first editions and a couple are signed but I honestly have not read a single thing of hers with any amount of pleasure in about a decade.

Color-Coordinated Bookshelf

Next we pulled the catboxes out of the basement and gleefully locked the door. We put the litterboxes in my old sewing area, then moved the desk and all of my fabric into Cavan’s old room. His area was more like a suite. He had a huge closet which now has all of our coats and jackets and luggage in it. His bedroom was actually his office and he had a sunroom where he kept his bed. Because that area is so much smaller, we kept the bed in there but put it on a frame. I told Charlie if he wants to sleep in there on the nights he works at the club I could make some drapes to keep out the sun. I think I want to paint the office area a robin’s egg blue or a really soft bluish green. We’ll see if that happens.
Fabric on a ShelfDesk with Sewing Machine

Here’s the sleeping area in the sunroom.
Spare Bedroom

Charlie pointed out that most people would go out and buy new stuff when they gained space but we got rid of a lot of things. I like how open things feel now. I used to think of books as decor; a way to fill up rooms. But having worked at a used bookstore I collected a lot of books. A lot of books that I would never read or at least wouldn’t read more than once. When something costs a quarter or fifty cents, why not? But I like things uncluttered. If I ever have a library in my house or a den, we’ll build shelves and just fill them with glorious books. For now, I haven’t got time to read anything that isn’t assigned.

Housemate-less

passthumb.jpgFor the first time in over four years, Charlie and I are living alone. Together, that is. Not with a housemate. It’s very odd. Surreal. Has yet to sink in.

When Cavan left yesterday evening, it was very much like he was just going to his parents’ house for the night and would be back the next day. It was all
“Okay, have a good time.”
“See you later.”
“Don’t do anything I wouldn’t.”
“I never do.”
And with a ruffling of the dogs’ heads he was out the door.

Charlie and I went upstairs and looked at the new spare room and sunroom that would be ours to fill. It felt empty. I wasn’t too emotional since Cavan and I weren’t all that close and things have been a bit weird since he first decided to apply to the Spain program. I’m not going to say I’m “happy” he’s gone. I’m also not going to pretend that it hasn’t been difficult to maintain a healthy relationship with my partner all this time we’ve had Cavan or Kate living with us.

But when Alvy came slinking in with his ears back and his tail down, I started to cry. All I could think was Alvy looked really confused walking around Cavan’s now-empty room. Was he thinking he lost his buddy? Was he upset in some sort of canine way? I promised myself I wouldn’t do some anti-Cesar Millan thing and project my worries over Alvy’s loneliness on to him, making him even more neurotic.

Charlie and I decided to take both the dogs for their third walk, just to keep Alvy occupied. I’m sure pretty soon his little doggie brain will forget who Cavan was, or at least forget that he was expecting Cavan to come back.

Maybe we’re both a little bit jealous that he gets to do this and we don’t. But I think it’s more like that ship has sailed. Maybe setting up the DVR to record all of the NBC shows on Thursday nights (but not “ER” or “Scrubs.” I hate both of those shows) isn’t as thrilling as blogging from Barcelona. But there is something to be said for hooking up your own utilities, owning a toaster, and getting your dogs’ vaccinations on time every year. Being responsible can be boring to some people, but I find comfort in the semi-predictability of my little life. Things will probably change drastically again in less than two years, so I’ll continue to enjoy this while I can.

Instead of Doing Homework

I went off on a lady in a gas station today. It was another one of those situations where I’m waiting patiently in line because the person at the register is clearly involved in something else but I’m apparently giving way too much space between myself and wherever the asshole behind me thinks I should be standing. So the asshole behind me starts edging up and edging up until they’re right next to me. At which point that person puts their face in mine and goes “Are you in line?

I think I’d had it with this question so I turned around and snapped at the woman, “Yes, I’m in line, but I was trying to be polite by not interrupting whatever the cashier is doing!” I also continued to mutter under my breath after I turned back around, saying something like “Jesus Christ, people.” The girl who was trying to figure out how to transfer a payment from the wrong pump to the right one laughed. So if nothing else, maybe I brightened her day a little bit. She was having to deal with a lot of other assholes who probably blame her for gas prices and who can’t tell which pump they’re on when they come in to pay.

My response obviously shocked the woman behind me, and maybe she was on the receiving end of wrath that was really intended for a dozen other people who have asked me the same question. But I swear to god, I don’t know what it is that makes people think I’m just standing in the middle of a store with my thumb up my butt. I mean, I’m facing the register. I’m holding something that I clearly intend to purchase at said register. There are maybe two or three feet between me and that register.

I also saw a bumper sticker on a guy’s truck that read “If you can read, thank a teacher. If you can read in English, thank a Marine.”

Dangling on the Edge

now with color!
I got my tattoo finished this afternoon. It hurt like a bitch. The outline and shading was okay when I got that about three weeks ago (until he got to the back/underside of my arm). But for some reason the color was really painful today.

I’m really glad I got it colored in, though. I know a lot of people said they thought I should leave it black and grey, but I think it looks brootiful. It’s still pretty red so this photo doesn’t really do it justice. There are a lot of different colors and a lot of shading. He used three different kinds of reds and pinks, two greens, white, yellow, and a little blue.

It’s difficult to see all of that because it’s dark in the house today and the flash washed it all out when Charlie tried it. The battery is charging on my Canon Rebel so we used the Powershot.

I’m guessing this may be it for me for a while. I’m running out of easily-covered space. I realize whether or not you can hide a tattoo should probably not be a primary consideration when you’re planning one. But, to me, it is.

The artist and I talked about doing some background but we also agreed that it might detract from the tattoo, itself. I started out by wanting to get a half sleeve, but now I’m not really sure. I don’t want to get tattoos just to fill up space but I also don’t want to look like a pansy who can’t stand to have her arm covered. I have many shirts that can cover it and I’m still comfortable wearing. In the summer, when and if I have a “real job” upon graduating, I know I’ll be cursing myself for having to wear a half or three-quarter sleeved shirt. But, what the hell, right?

By the way, the guy who’s done 75% of my work is Jeff Foti at Metamorphosis in Broad Ripple. They don’t have a Web site that I know of – just the MySpace. All the artists there are talented and I like them each for different reasons. Trevor is super-talkative and funny. Matt is very focused and quiet. Jeff’s a really good guy, fair, and a great artist. Of course, I may just like everything he’s done for me. I have a good rapport with him, so I recommend him.