Tag Archives: Starbucks

Not a Winner

Remember that contest I entered? Well I didn’t win. Not even an honourable mention. But I’m ok with that. Mostly because now I can post it here.

An Open Letter to an Old Friend

Dear Mr. Starbucks,

I’m not one to complain. It’s just my nature to let things slide, forgive and forget, look the other way. When, of course, there is another way to look. Truth is, I’m an easy-going kind of gal who just needs a grande, nonfat, no foam, extra hot, one shot (perhaps with a  pump of vanilla) latte each day right around 2:00 pm to stay that way. I don’t even grimace when waiting in line to plunk down the 4 bucks and change for my afternoon indulgence. And all I have ever asked in return from you is a comfy chair on which I can rest my larger than I ever remember, middle-aged, or so, behind. Which brings me to the reason for this letter. Mr. Starbucks, what exactly were you thinking?

Don’t get me wrong. I was excited to learn that you were embarking on a revamp of my neighborhood haunt. It was going to take a month. So what? Who’s Mother hasn’t told them good things come to those who wait? Besides, that month gave me more time to dream. Soon enough I’ll be nestled in a brand new overstuffed, cocoon-like, leather chair, adjacent to a cozy, glowing fireplace, whiling away the afternoon sipping on that perfectly made latte, reading the latest offering of my favourite author, sharing philosophical banter with one of my many Starbucks’ friends. Perhaps a short snooze if the time is right.

It’s hard for me to explain the feeling of anticipation as I watched the brown paper that had covered the windows for what seemed like an eternity (you really should revisit your definition of “coming soon”) slowly peeled off to reveal the fruits of your labourers. Stepping over the threshold, my eyes quickly traveled from one corner of the room to another, and then yet another. Wait. There’s no fireplace. No comfy chairs. Hardly any chairs at all. As you can imagine, I was overcome with dismay. This renovation is for someone else. Someone, I suspect, with a much tighter behind than mine; one that has no trouble settling into the miniature wooden structure I’m supposed to believe is a bar stool. Someone whose body is still supple enough to duck under the long, sterile looking table to plug in an electronic device that becomes her conversational partner for the remainder of the afternoon. Someone who is definitely not me.

I get it Mr. S. Time does not stand still. There’s a younger generation primed and ready to fill my chair. But just for the meantime, while I’m still around, would it kill you to make that chair just a little more comfy?

Your friend,

Wendy C.

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Put Those Scissors Away!

I’m pretty sure it’s not just me. I’ll bet this has happened to you too. In my case it usually occurs once or twice a day but then I’m a shallow person. For you, maybe more. Whatever the number, it seems to me that by hook or by crook at some point in each and every day you will, without a doubt, have one, or perhaps many, decisions to make. Some big, some not. Like when you decide to go for a coffee. What do you do now that your local and most fav Starbucks is under renovation? (There will be more about that another time). Do you drive to the one by the water with the perfect view or do you save both gas and the environment by taking that rather lengthy walk, albeit through one of the most beautiful urban parks in this country of ours, to a more mundane location? In this case it’s really a win/win since the outcome (that would be the coffee) is the same. You just have to decide what’s more important. The “getting there” or the “being there”. Which really doesn’t make for a very difficult decision. But they’re not all like that. Some decisions, as we all know, are really hard to make.

Like maybe you’re thinking about retiring but are not entirely sure it’s a good idea. Do you or don’t you? And if you do, what will you do? There’s some significance to that. Or you’re looking to buy a house, or have a baby, or trying to decide who to vote for in the next election. Ok, if you live in those United States of America that last one should be a no-brainer (did I really say that?) but it will have an impact for sure. So it’s important. If you are anything like me, when it comes to big decisions you dither. Quite a lot. And you make lists. There’s the pros and there’s the cons. When that doesn’t help you create some kind of point system. On a spreadsheet. Once completed it looks quite impressive but does little to help you make up your mind. After all of these shenanigans you finally decide that you have exhausted the decision-making possibilities and you do the only thing you know that’s left to do. You trust your gut. Followed perhaps, by just a short little prayer to who/whatever you might call upon in these sorts of situations. And the reason you do all of this is that you know, when you make the big decision, it’s made. Done. No turning back. You’re stuck with it. Or are you?

Not so long ago I was visiting a dear friend who found herself in need of a new frock. This was not a frivolous undertaking. This frock was going to find itself at some very important meetings so of course, it had to be just right.  As most of us would, she set off to find just the right thing at just the right store. And she found it. At least she was pretty sure she had found it. The thing is, when you shell out a considerable sum of money, which I am guessing she did but can’t say for sure, on what you think could be your “go to” dress, you need to have not even one little doubt about it. So she did what any reasonable person in her position would do. She wore the dress to the meeting, price tag and all. Now some of you might be thinking “Who does that?” Who leaves the tag on the dress, just in case?” But I gotta tell you. The more I think about it, the more I like the idea. Because it puts a whole new perspective on the decision-making process.

Here’s what I mean. What if you could “leave the tag” on all of your big decisions? Like when you buy a house. Maybe instead of going home to sleep “on it” you should actually be sleeping “in it”. Not only would you have a chance to learn first hand about all the quirks and quarks, you would also know exactly what they meant when they said the neighbors were a “little” eccentric. And it will be ok because you left the tag on. After a week or two in the new abode you can change your mind and go back home. Or maybe you’re trying to decide what new car to buy. That 12 minute test drive doesn’t really help all that much. If you could just bring that puppy home, maybe try it out during the first snowfall, the decision would be oh so much easier to make. If all is not well you can just take it back ‘cause the tag’s still on. Or you retired and decided it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be. Endless days of lunches, coffees, walks around the park just don’t cut it for you. If you had left the proverbial tag on you could just go back to do whatever it was you were doing before you left. Not that you necessarily would. I’m just sayin’ that you could. And if you had known that from the start there might have been fewer sleepless nights wondering if it was the right or wrong thing to do in the first place.

Not convinced yet? Then think about this. What if all of those people in the United States of America had been able to leave the tag on after the last election? Just for a little while. To see how things worked out. Bet you’re with me now! What do you say we all put those scissors away.

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I Need a Plan

I’ve never been much of a planner. I’m guessing I don’t have to tell you that. After all, you’ve been reading about the life of a shallow person for many, many years now and, as such, I’m pretty sure you have some idea of how this little brain of mine works. What you may find a tad ironic is that I spent a good deal of my working life as a career planning counselor helping others figure out what they wanted to do when they grew up. But I suppose it’s not that unusual. You can liken it to the carpenter who never has time to build her own deck. Or fix the hole in the wall. Or finish the doghouse she promised to her pooch when she picked him up from his foster home. You get my drift. There are things you can do well for others that you never do for yourself. And for me, planning my life was one of those things.

It’s not that I don’t plan anything. Oh contraire! There are a plethora of things that I plan for. Like vacations. Anyone who knows me well knows that I’m really good at planning vacations. There’s never anything spontaneous when I hit the road. By the time I’m done with that planning  I’ll know exactly where I’ll rest my head each and every night. Not only that. I’ll be able to tell you my estimated time of arrival, give or take a minute or two depending on traffic and road conditions along the way. I’ll have gotten the best possible price on the best possible hotel in the vicinity and likely know where I’ll be satiating my hunger that evening. The last thing I want is to end up sleeping in my car on the side of the Trans Canada highway somewhere between Princeton and Vancouver, in the pouring rain, because there are no vacancies due to an obscure peach (or other kind of fruit) festival being held, of all the silly times, on a long week-end in August. I mean who wants that to happen…again. So I plan my vacations.

To tell you the truth, I’m not too shabby on the financial front either. Not that it has made me rich beyond my wildest dreams. But I’m doing all right. Sure I’ve made some mistakes but nothing that has proved to be catastrophic. As it is, I have a lovely roof over my head, food on the table, jeans in my closet and enough left over at the end of the month to take one of those well planned road trips. All of which I am truly grateful for.  And while there may have been some luck involved, for the most part, it was planning that made it happen. Which probably leaves you wondering, why all the fuss and bother about not being a planner? Because on the surface it would appear that everything is hunky-dory. The important stuff has been worked out and as to the rest, well maybe I should just let the chips fall where they may. Of course, you’d be right. Except for one thing. You see, in the very next little while I will be retiring from my current job. And if I have to be honest with you (as I always am) that’s something I really haven’t planned for.

Don’t get me wrong. Like most, I’m looking forward to this new stage of my life. It’s not that I haven’t enjoyed working. The truth is, I’ve always loved my jobs and the people I’ve had the privilege to work with. At least most of them. Which could be the reason I face this next adventure (as some would have me call it) with more than a little trepidation. You see, I’ve been racking my brain as to what I am going to do with all of the excess time I will find myself in the midst of. Yes, I know. Friends of mine who are retired tell me they are busier now than they ever were when they were working. Over and over I hear them exclaim “I don’t know how I ever had time for my job!” I can tell you how. They paid you to be there, so you were there.

The truth is, I have had no shortage of suggestions made to me. There’s volunteer work to be done (isn’t that just a job you don’t get paid for?), lunches to be had, books to be read, places to go, dishes to be washed. I get it. There’s lots to do when you retire. The question is, exactly what is it that I will do? I suppose I could say I will spend more time meeting my friends at  the local Starbucks but that just doesn’t seem to cut it. Not that I don’t want to see my friends, or spend my excess cash drinking fancy coffees. The thing about going for coffee is that it only works when you are taking a break from “something”, not from “nothing”. Some people have suggested that my new found freedom will provide me with much more time to spend writing this blog. I’m guessing they are mostly people who don’t read it.

So there you have it. Even for a shallow gal, the prospect of an uncertain future seems somewhat daunting. Sure. Over the next little while I figure something will come up that I can latch on to. I’ll take a class or two and see what happens. Do some sightseeing around this Island of ours. Reconnect with friends I haven’t seen for a while. But in the meantime, if anyone happens to know the name of a good career planning counselor, this would be a great time to pass that on to me.

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Back Again!

I know. It’s been a while. Not that anyone has been calling to ask what’s goin’ on with the blog. Nonetheless, I’m guessing that by now you’re thinking my transition from a shallow person to a non-shallow person (that would be the opposite, would it not?) has been complete and I can no longer sustain a blog that would claim differently. Can’t say that it’s so. There’s a funny thing about time and distance. You see a month or so ago, when I was 2,120 km (that’s 1317 miles for those who resist the conversion) from home, I was in the thick of it. I kept my eye on things. I knew each and every move that was being made by what seemed (and still does seem) to be someone who might not have been an appropriate choice to run one of the most powerful countries in the world. I suppose I could now conclude that at the time I was residing in our neighbor to the south, it was pretty hard to escape the “goings on” and yet, it was more than that. I was drawn in. Sucked perhaps into the midst of the political debate, discussion and controversy that surrounded me.

But time and distance have made all the difference. Don’t get me wrong. I remain painfully aware of who’s in charge and continue to have moments of pure trepidation as to what news I might awake to on any given morning. And I realize that no man is an island. Although I do actually live on one. But it’s not as intense. Not so immediate. Not so welded into my existence, day in and day out. Besides. There’s no one at the local Starbucks that’s even talking about “45” these days. Trust me. I’m a pretty good listener.

So here I am. Back again and ready to admit that I realize all of what’s been said above doesn’t account for my rather extended absence. And here’s where a shallow person’s colours really shine. You see, shallow people are unabashedly unapologetic about coming up with excuses for pretty much anything that needs explaining. There’s no uphill climb here for me so let’s just get this show on the road. 

Excuse #1: First there’s the “settling back in” stuff that comes with having vacated your homestead for nigh on two months and a bit. The trips to Costco, the local grocers, the butcher, the baker, the bank (bet that’s not what you thought I was going to say) back to Costco. And perhaps with a little less gusto, the now unavoidable dentist appointment that can no longer be sidestepped with a “Sorry but I’m going to be out of town for an extended period of time” excuse. It all has to get done and it all takes time.

Excuse #2: Next there’s catching up to do. Lots of people that haven’t been seen for several months need to be called, arrangements made to get together for a chit chat, and time set aside for that get together. Since I’m normally not the most social person in the universe, the meet and greets tend to take a fair bit of energy on my part, leaving little left in the evenings for my musings. Not that I’m complaining. I mean it’s nice to make some time for friends particularly when it becomes a stellar excuse for my rather flagrant procrastination. Which might not be so problematic if it wasn’t for NetFlix.

Excuse #3: Yes, Netflix. The current scourge of my existence. I can’t even begin to count the number of quite awful movies that are consuming my time of late. In retrospect it may have been a less than good decision to purchase a subscription to this dastardly service given my propensity for watching B list movies. Honestly, why would I think that spending hours watching them on the TV stations was not enough?. Did I think my life could be improved by having access “on demand” to a seemingly infinite number of bad movies? Don’t get me wrong. There are actually some very good offerings on NetFlix (who wouldn’t want to spend an evening with Grace and Frankie?) and there’s something to be said about having the freedom to call up “Eat, Pray, Love” whenever one has the inkling to do so.  But again, all of this takes time and in my case, time away from the blog.

Excuse #4: My laptop broke. Sure I have other computers that I can use for the blog. After all, the blog is on the internet so theoretically I can access it from any electronic device. I have lots of those. But I’m accustomed to writing the blog on my laptop. It’s comfortable. I can move around with it. If I need to leave one room for another I can take it with me. It lets me multitask. I can also watch TV with the laptop on my lap. It’s not that hard. Really bad movies don’t demand all that much attention.

Excuse #5: It’s not that I can’t come up with more excuses but for now I will leave you with this one. I just haven’t had anything to write about. As you may know, I spend a fair bit of time observing the human condition (some might call it drinking coffee) and that usually triggers an idea, a thought, something that inspires me to put pen to paper, so to speak. Lately of course those triggers have been fewer and farther between but nonetheless, they have been there. But now there’s nothing. Nada. None of this half empty/half full glass for me. It’s just plain empty. I don’t know. Can’t really explain it.

Funny story. I’m still sitting here with nothing to write about and yet, what do you know. I’ve written a whole blog post. It’s a post about nothing really. That sounds vaguely familiar.  Makes me think this just might have some potential.

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I’m Afraid the Grass Isn’t Always Greener


This past week was the 75th anniversary of my elementary school. Let’s get this right. It’s the school that’s 75 years old, and, just to be clear, I wasn’t there in its inaugural year. Unfortunately, I wasn’t there this year either. Not because I didn’t want to go. After careful consideration I figured it was just too long a hop from this little Island of mine for two hours of nostalgia, reconnecting and trying to inconspicuously glance down at people’s name tags just in case I actually could remember who they were. Because even though I wasn’t able to attend, I am guessing that, like me, they too no longer look the same as they did the last time I saw them. Which was probably in the vicinity of 1965. Let’s face it, a lot of things change over 50 odd years. Which got me thinking, as oft is the case, that as much as we are encouraged to embrace it in all facets of our lives, change, in and of itself, is somewhat overrated.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve embraced plenty of changes in this little lifetime of mine. Like writing this blog. Only five years ago I wasn’t writing it and now I am. And how about those moves. Two of them. Took me right smack across the country. First to one of the coldest and then one of the most moderate climes in this vast land of ours. If that’s not change, well I just don’t know what is. There are other things too. Instead of bell bottoms I wear skinny jeans and I rarely enter a store to get them. I type rather than write all of my correspondence. Can’t even remember the last time I bought a stamp. I no longer have to call my friends to find out what they are doing, where they are going, who they are with, what movie they just saw, where they were last night, or what they are “liking” on any given day. With just one click I’m going to find out all of this and more. Whether I want to or not. If I must say so myself, I’ve adapted quite nicely. And yet, having successfully navigated my way through decades of change, I still contend there’s something to be said about the benefits of consistency. Honestly, in this world, some things are just meant to stay the same.

Why, you ask, have my thoughts about change started to change? Well you already know this but there’s nothing wrong with saying it again, as a shallow person I’m pretty laid back when it comes to, well (al)most everything. So when some friends suggested coffee at “someplace new” I thought “Ok, I can try someplace new. What could be so wrong with that?” Looking back at it now of course I should have known better. But there was something enticing about the thought of exploring this new city of mine which is chock full of funky little places to enjoy a cuppa. To make a long story short (and how rarely do I do that?) we traversed many a mile, stopping periodically at various establishments but never finding one that had that je ne sais quoi we apparently were seeking.

It was hard to put a finger on it. I was pretty sure they could all quite competently make my grande, no foam, non-fat, latte even though, no doubt there would be a tinge of disdain as those words so eloquently and effortlessly rolled off of my tongue. I suppose I should learn to say “medium”. Besides, if truth be told, I’m no coffee connoisseur so as long as there is lots of milk in that latte of mine, I’m good. Which is why I am pretty certain it wasn’t about the coffee. I can’t in all good conscience, say I am exactly sure what was happening. The first place we set foot in was too bohemian, the second too avant garde and the third, well the third just didn’t feel right. As we continued on our rather unsuccessful quest we finally and somewhat reluctantly conceded that the grass really isn’t always greener and sometimes that place where “everyone knows your name” (they pay those Baristas to learn your name you know) is where you need to be. Sometimes there’s just no substitute for that comfy chair by the window at your same ol’ same ol’ stompin’ grounds. And sometimes I think my Mother (remember Mom? She just hit the big 101) hit the nail on the head when she admonished me to leave well enough alone.

So you can see why these days I’m giving the whole “change thing” a second thought. I don’t know. Maybe it’s because as I get older I just know what I like and what I don’t. Maybe it’s because some things will always be more comfortable than others. Like a chair that molds to your body when you slip into it. Or that pair of shoes you’ve tried but simply can’t throw away. Or that favourite pair of jeans. Yep, that favourite pair of jeans. Even if they are bell bottoms.

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