Texas girl in the middle of Kiwiana

Amy Boatman

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Clover Coffee

Yesterday, I had some time to kill so I went to the Starbucks at 7th and Pike. They are one of the stores with the new Clover coffee system. I was really excited because I had heard such great things about Clover coffee but hadn’t tried it yet. The woman behind the counter was awesome and really made me see again why I like working for Starbucks. We really have some of the best people around working with us. Anyway, I had a cup of the Kenya something-I-can’t-pronounce and it was WONDERFUL! A truly spectacular coffee experience. Yeah, I know, I’m a big geek. I don’t care. I love coffee and that was the best damn cup of coffee I’ve ever had. Of course, it was probably the most expensive too at $3.95 for a 16 ounce cup. Good thing I get the employee discount, lol. It was totally worth it though. I certainly won’t buy it everyday but for a treat sometimes, I’ll definitely be back.

It's About That Time

I started my new job at Starbucks on the 26th. The class has been alright. I’m not really good at sitting in a classroom but it was probably the best training class I’ve been in for years. Plus, there’s some really great people in the class. It’s kicking my ass having to get up so early and it’s only going to get worse. My new shift’s gonna start at 6am. 6am! Fuck that’s early! I also have to work weekends. Shift bids are done every three months so hopefully in April I’ll get a better shift. I was really bummed to get such a crappy shift, especially since I was told right after I was hired that I’d have at least one weekend day off, so I came up with a list of things that are good about coming in early and working weekends:

  • I’ll be working a similar shift, including weekends, with my classmates. That’s the best thing.
  • There will be plenty of onsite parking.
  • The gym is pretty empty around 3pm so I’ll get right on the machine I want.
  • It’ll still be light when I get off.
  • I’ll get to go to lunch around 10ish so it won’t be so crazy in the kitchens and in the cafe. 
  • The weekends are really laid back. I can wear sweats and look all slouchy. 
  • There’s no bosses there on the weekends. 
  • The building is almost empty so I can explore in peace.
I’m sure there’s more but right now they elude me. I’m looking forward to getting down to the real job though. The classroom stuff is over. We start talking to real people on Monday. We’ll still be in the classroom with mentors though. Now if I can just keep myself from saying “Ummmm, wow, I have no idea” in response to my first question, I’ll be doing good.

Not much else going on in my life right now. I get up really early, I go to work, I come home, I go to bed really early. I go to my Tuesday night NA meeting which I love. I’ve missed the Thursday writing get together lately but hope to get back at it. A couple of Wednesdays in a row, I got to go to a women’s treatment center and share my story. That was awesome! I really enjoyed that. It’s great getting to share my experience, strength, and hope with other people. Now I just need to find a sponsor here. I’m not sure why I’m reluctant but I am. I have someone in mind I want to ask but I haven’t done it yet. We’ll see.

I’m so happy today is Friday. R and her friends are gonna get mani/pedis tomorrow and then go to the thrift stores. They’re looking for sweaters to take apart so they can use the yarn for other things. It’s really pretty funny. Anyway, I’m getting some alone time!! Woohooo!! I’m hoping to finish Family Guy. That’s a damn funny show! Tomorrow night, we’re gonna go see The Golden Compass and then Sunday, hanging with the mother-in-law for her birthday.

Snappy Comebacks and a Brilliant Spouse

You know how we all have those situations in which the witty, snappy comeback alludes us? Hours later, when we least expect it, the perfect line comes to us. It’s so damned annoying. Well today we went over to Barnes & Noble to spend a $25 gift card. I got two books and the total came to $24.98. The cashier asked me if I planned it that way but of course, I’m just not that good with numbers. She gave me my $.02 and said “I don’t know what you’re gonna do with it though.” I said, “I’ll give somebody my $.02 worth.” I could hear the drum and rim shot in the distance.

We attempted to do some geocaching today but struck out once again. We are now something like 0 for 12. I’m not sure what it is but we just can’t seem to find anything here. It was rainy and windy today so, honestly, we didn’t try that hard. We ended up on Alki Beach looking for this one cache. We didn’t look long due to the aforementioned rain and wind but over just about 50 feet from where we were standing, the water was washing up on the wall. There was this couple standing there and every time the water came up, they cheered. They looked like they were having so much fun. It was awesome!

Afterwards, we went over to Starbucks (go figure, huh) for some coffee. R was looking out the window at the water and I was looking at the sale circulars. I saw that Radio Shack had GPS units on sale. Now, a little background on this. Last weekend, we were going…somewhere and I was supposed to be navigating. I couldn’t tell how to get on the highway so I told R I usually just “feel” my way around in these situations. Well, she got a bit upset. Turns out she has a thing about being lost, not knowing exactly how to get somewhere. I hadn’t been aware of this before. I love it when I learn new things about her just when I think I know it all. So, anyway, knowing she has this fear, I saw these GPS units for sale. I told her we needed to go over to Radio Shack and look at them. So, off we went on a mission.

Do you know what a bad idea it is to go to one of the shopping centers two days before Christmas? Well it’s right up there with yelling fire in the theater and watching The Pirate Movie. We spoke with the young man in the store at length and asked him questions he had no answer to but at least he had Google. (What did we ever do before Google?) We ended up leaving with a brand new shiny Garmin Nuvi 200 complete with maps of the whole US, driving directions to every Starbucks and yarn store in town, and this bland female voice that tells us which way to turn. The funny thing though is it tells us to turn as we pass the turn, lol. We played with it all the way home and had a blast.

So, we get home and decide we want to figure out how to use our nifty little gadget for geocaching. I hooked it up to my computer and transferred over a gps coordinate file. We turned it on expecting to see all kinds of pretty geocaches light up on the screen. What we saw instead was…black screen. And then more black screen. It turned out I overrode the internal file or some such. We both dinked around with it for a bit but couldn’t figure out. I gave up and suggested we take it back to Radio Shack in the morning. Then I sat my ass on the couch and watched the Amazing Race. R continued to play with it. Periodically I would glance over at her seeing her wrinkle her forehead and stare intently at the computer screen. Occasionally, she would tap the GPS and it would beep. I would glance over at her hopefully but she’d shake her head and frown deeper.

Hours later, I hear a shout of triumph. She had gone from site to site, forum post to forum post, odd bit here and odd bit there. Somehow, against all the odds I had placed on it happening, she managed to restore the whole damn thing. I am incredibly impressed with her. She rocks!! Now she’s figured out how to do all kinds of impressive things with it. She is a rock star!

What to Do When the Starbucks Closes

While I was sitting at the Starbucks last night waiting for Rhonda to finish her meditation class, the shop closed. I had arrived at about 7:20 and the shop closed at 8pm. I had just assumed it closed at 9pm since that’s when they close in Texas. So, here I was with at least 30 minutes before Rhonda was done. She had the keys to the car and there wasn’t another coffee shop in sight. What to do, what to do? Most of the other businesses had closed up already and the street was semi-deserted. There were still cars whizzing by but not much foot traffic.

I decided to go lurk near the building where Rhonda’s class was being held. It’s one of those tiny little doors that leads upstairs to other rooms so the only place to sit was on the front stoop. One of the few places still open was the fitness center next door. I used to have a gym membership and I really enjoyed going. It was just too hot in Texas most of the time to do much of any exercise outside. So, it was nice to have somewhere air conditioned to get all sweaty. Now that I live in Seattle, though, I can’t imagine being cooped up in a small room, running on a small strip of rubber, constantly moving but going nowhere. It’s just so beautiful here and the weather! Oh, it’s heaven!

Anyway, while I sat in the little doorway, people would occasionally come out of the gym and head to their cars. There weren’t many but enough so I felt safe sitting there. I figured if anyone messed with me, surely someone in there had lifted a few weights and could help me out. After about ten minutes, I saw this man heading towards me. He was looking right at me which is unusual when someone is walking on the sidewalk. Usually, people don’t make eye contact. It seems too threatening. Well, this guy was looking at me and making a bee line for my stoop. The night air was cool but not enough for a coat. There was no breeze on the street and the temperature was around 60 degrees. This guy was wearing a quilted coat and a cap and he had a backpack slung over one shoulder. So, not only was he headed toward me, he looked suspicious doing it. I was going through the rudimentary karate moves I’ve learned when he stopped a respectful distance away and asked if I could spare any change. His dark hair was greasy and came to a point on the top of his head. The coat he wore had probably once been blue but now was covered with mysterious dark brown spots. His jeans were nice enough and he had on really nice shoes. They were black, possibly leather, and polished to a high sheen. I couldn’t have done better when I was still polishing my boots for my EMS dress uniform. His voice was very soft and I could barely hear him when he spoke. My immediate response to him was, “No, I don’t have anything.” I didn’t think I had any money on me although it turned out I had $2 in my wallet. After I told him no, he put down his backpack and rummaged through it. I felt my heart quicken as I was about to enter the flight or fight state. But then he pulled out two cans of Chunky soup and asked me if I wanted some.

I worked with and around homeless people and street people for a long time. One of my EMS stations was in downtown Austin a block from the homeless shelter and two blocks from the Salvation Army. I have seen them at their worst and at their best. But I have never been offered food by any of them. Now, I’m assuming he was a homeless guy. He may not have been but he had the look and his mannerisms while asking for money spoke volumes about the way he had probably been treated in the past. To say I was touched would be an understatement. He took my saying I didn’t have anything to heart and offered to share what I’m guessing was his breakfast, lunch, and dinner with me.

I have had some interesting street experiences. I lived in Baltimore for one excruciatingly long year back at the beginning of the 90s. I didn’t have a car so I took the bus most places. One of my haunts was the gay and lesbian center in downtown Baltimore. This part of town was actually considered to be a “good” part of town. Not much crime, clean streets, plenty of police cruising by. Well, one night as I was leaving some gather or other, I was waiting on the street corner for the bus. This guy comes up behind me, grabs my arm, and swings me around to face him. He gathered up the collar of my shirt in his meaty fist and asked for my money. I didn’t even think. I was carrying a backpack full of books. I swung the bag at his head and knocked him over. I then ran like a bat out of hell towards the bus across the street that wasn’t going anywhere near where I wanted to be. I couldn’t have cared less where that bus was headed. It was going away from him and that’s all that mattered.

I have had some interesting street experiences. I lived in Baltimore for one excruciatingly long year back at the beginning of the 90s. I didn’t have a car so I took the bus most places. One of my haunts was the gay and lesbian center in downtown Baltimore. This part of town was actually considered to be a “good” part of town. Not much crime, clean streets, plenty of police cruising by. Well, one night as I was leaving some gather or other, I was waiting on the street corner for the bus. This guy comes up behind me, grabs my arm, and swings me around to face him. He gathered up the collar of my shirt in his meaty fist and asked for my money. I didn’t even think. I was carrying a backpack full of books. I swung the bag at his head and knocked him over. I then ran like a bat out of hell towards the bus across the street that wasn’t going anywhere near where I wanted to be. I couldn’t have cared less where that bus was headed. It was going away from him and that’s all that mattered.

As I stood there trying to decided what to do, I saw a figure turn the corner and head down my street. I reached into my bag in search of something sharp. The only thing I could come up with was a Star Trek lapel pin someone had recently given me. That wouldn’t cause anymore damage than a paper cut. My feet were glued to the pavement as he made his way ever closer. At about ten feet, he stopped and stared at me. He was in his early 20s with short black hair and cocoa skin. He was nicely dressed and had a kind face. He looked at me like one would look at a lost dog. He put his hands up to show they were empty and spoke softly as if not to scare me away. He was treating me like the skittish animal I seemed to be. He asked if I was okay and if he could help. Something told me I could trust him so I told him what had happened. Halfway through my tale, I burst into tears and had to pause several times to regain enough composure to continue speaking. He listened patiently as I blubbered my way through my story and then asked if he could help. He asked where I was going then proceeded to walk me to the proper bus stop so I could catch the right bus. He stayed with me, telling me about his life in Baltimore, until my bus arrived. He made sure I got on the bus and then watched me pull away. I made it back to my house about 30 minutes later. I have never forgotten that kind man. His name was Calvin. Where ever you are Calvin, thank you so much for helping a terrified girl find her way home.

I seem to always find danger in the “good” part of town, literally and figuratively, and then find help in the “bad” areas. The most generous people I’ve ever met didn’t have much at all to share but they gladly shared it. By contrast, I have known some extremely wealthy people who wouldn’t give a dime to a blind old nun begging on the street. Some man stops to help me more than fifteen years ago and I remember everything about him to this day. A homeless man begging for change on the street offers to share his food with me because he thinks I don’t have any. There’s a bible verse that I’ve always liked but never can fully remember. It’s something to the effect of a miserly man having as much success getting to heaven as pulling a camel through the eye of a needle. I’m sure I’m mangling it but that’s the gist. We’re all in this thing called life together. None of us can make it alone. I don’t remember hardly any of the strangers I’ve come across in my life but I will forever remember Calvin. And I suspect I’ll always remember the homeless man who offered to share his food. Who will remember you today?

Sitting in a Seattle Starbucks

It seems really cliche these days to hang out in a coffee shop in Seattle. I mean, everyone does it right? After all, Seattle was the birthplace of a $4 cup of coffee. Seattle is famous for its coffee. Well, coffee and rain. The interesting thing, though, is that while there really is a coffee shop on every corner, it doesn’t rain that much here. I read somewhere, or heard from the proverbial “they,” that it rains more per year in Arizona than in Seattle. Now I’ve not lived here for a whole four seasons yet. I’ve been here for three seasons though and it doesn’t rain nearly as much as everyone thinks. Take today for example. It was sunny and 65 degrees. It’s supposed to be sunny and 60ish for the next seven days. In fact, it’s not supposed to rain until the first part of November. The best thing I can say is that it’s NOT HOT!! I can’t even tell you how happy I am about that.

Yesterday was my first full day here. I slept until I woke up and then didn’t have to load up the critters. Rhonda and I went to Lincoln Park so she could show me the ferry. Luckily, we had gone to Target the night before to get me a hoodie because the wind coming off the sound was chilly. The park was beautiful. All the trees are aflame with reds, golds, and yellows. In Texas, the leaves don’t change colors. They just fall off the tree and then you have trees with no leaves. Here the colors are just amazing. We walked down this little footpath lined with leaves and slick from the light drizzle that had been falling. Looking out over the sound with the smell of fall blowing in my face, I had this sudden sense of belonging. For years now, I knew that Texas wasn’t where I was supposed to be but I didn’t know where I should be. The feeling that I had at long last found it, THE place, was indescribable. I’m not sure why I’m here but I’m supposed to be here.

After walking around the park a while, we decided to go to this little fish place on Alki Beach. It’s called Spuds and it’s the oldest fast food place in Seattle. Its been there since 1935. They don’t serve any tofu there so I had french fries and cole slaw. Mmm, nutritious, lol. But Rhonda had been wanting to go there for a while so I was happy to oblige.

I wanted to go to Pike Place Market to buy some new t-shirts. There is a woman named Sara with a booth down there. She makes these beautiful mandala designs. I’ve been buying shirts from her for at least six years. Now that I live somewhere that will actually get cold, I bought a couple of long sleeve shirts. I just love the market. The energy of the crowds, the smell of flowers and fruit, the guys at the fish stand throwing seafood at each other. It’s exhilarating. There are lots more shops in the lower levels that sometimes people miss. One of my favorites is this dark little shop that just reeks of nag champa. It sells lots of “new age” type stuff. There’s also lots of stuff from India. What really intrigues me, however, are the jars along one wall full of mysterious herbs and who knows what else. Names like Chrysalis and Hempjaw adorn the jars. Some of the substances are obviously powders but some look like dried cartilage or bone fragments. I’m sure it’s all perfectly harmless but to me it just feels forbidden, like the voodoo shops in New Orleans. It seems as if there’s a whole other world of potions and mixtures of which I have no knowledge. Such mysteries to unravel!

Another favorite store is not actually in Pike Market but on Western Avenue right across the street. It’s called World Spice Merchants. As I round the corner, the smell draws me in. There are so many types of spice in here, it’s impossible to tell which one your smelling at any given time. Right inside the front door are shelves containing little one ounce samples of everything they offer. If it’s a spice, they probably have it. What we were in search of this day, however, was something specific. Rhonda had discovered this little gem and was eager to share it with me. It’s called Mayan Cocoa. It’s a mix of cocoa, chile, allspice, cinnamon, and who knows what else. Rhonda has been putting some in with her coffee and said it was divine. I was looking forward to having some but it wasn’t to be this day. They were out! I sniffed at the little sample bottle though and it does smell heavenly. They told us they would have some more made it in a day or two. So, bummer of bummers, we have to go back down to the market area so we can get some. What a hardship for me to have to go there twice. :P

Oh, one other thing I noticed down there. They have installed one of those self-contained tubular shaped public toilets. I’m not exactly sure how it works but apparently, you enter and the door slides shut behind you. There’s a shower and a toilet in there which you can then use. The door automatically opens after ten minutes and spits you out whether you’re ready to leave or not. It then goes through this cleaning cycle and, voila, is ready for the next person. I’m not sure how it cleans itself. And what happens to the toilet paper during this process. Seems to me, it would get wet. But, hey, I guess you’d have to go look for yourself and I wasn’t willing to wait in the long line to find out.

I just love living in the city. There’s so much to see and I am easily amused.