Tuesday, November 18, 2008

To Validate Hipness with Caffeine

Coffee in Portland is central to the town’s hipness. Without coffee, Portland would be nothing but a wannabe trendsetting port town. This town thrives on coffee. And, not just any coffee.

We have become accustomed to a certain standard. Out lattes are always complete with a design, usually a leave or heart. Sometimes if the barista is really good, they even ask you out in the foam of the latte. (Okay, I’ve never heard of that in real life, but wouldn’t that be cool? Imagine: “…Oh, well, we met when I looked down at my latte and I tell ya, I could have sworn it said ‘let me buy you dinner’ and then it turns out it really did *laughs nervously*…and well, the rest is history…sigh…”)

Yes, we have world-class coffee. But along with that we have a fair share of very spoiled coffee snobs. They get to pick from an array of sweeteners to sweeten their brew: raw sugar, brown sugar, splenda, agave, honey, stevia, sweet’n’low and equal. That’s just the sugar.

Let us now turn out attention to milk. We have a buffet to choose from: whole milk, soy milk, rice milk, almond milk, fat free and now…hemp milk! (Vanilla or plain hemp milk?)

Even “regular” coffee isn’t just “regular” coffee anymore. When you order “coffee,” you’re likely to get a blank look from the barista and then a look of “aha,” and she will say, “OooOooh, you mean, like, “drip” coffee.” And, after that has been established, there’s more. What size? Room for cream? “Would you like a medium organic roast with a cinnamony aftertaste, French roast with a hint of chocolate from the Ivory Coast or a light Kenyan blend with earthy undertones?”

No wonder we’ve turned into a buncha spoiled coffee snobs. It has become totally acceptable and normal. Go into any coffee shop and say “a double, tall, soy, split-shot extra dry cappuccino with one pump of vanilla” and you’re likely to get just that.

But, in a minute way, our coffee preference is a way of claiming our own individuality. I’m not just that one girl in the green coat—I’m that one girl, in the green coat that orders a small soy latte. Please.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Tis the Season for Four Months

It is already starting; in fact, it has been starting since September 4 according to my calculations. What is already starting? —You ask. All the Christmas hoo-ha, silly.

Now, I’m one of those people who is ambivalent about the Christmas season. I don’t really mind it; I don’t love it nor do I or hate it: I have no opinion.

But some people really go all out for the holidays. Oh, you know who I’m talking about. Their house is the Christmiast on the block complete with a dancing Santa on the roof. They cook homemade eggnog, bake gingerbread cookies, listen to Christmas music nonstop, wear special Chrismas earring and buy their loved one those horrid holiday sweaters.

In contrast, we have those who detest the Christmas season. They’re scrooges, or grinches. They hate the music and bitterly make their feelings known. They moan at the thought of another candy cane and under no circumstances will they buy a wreath for their door, no matter what charity it supports.

But me, I don’t really care that much. But, what has made me this way?

After 22 years of life experience, I think I know the answer…

Christmas starts too soon! I noted Christmas decorations present at a Costco in Guatamala of all places back in the first week of September. I was shocked. First off, who in Guatemala has any need for a reindeer made of Christmas lights? Secondly, uh, isn’t it a bit soon? At that point, we still had Halloween—Thanksgiving isn’t even here yet.

And, today, get this—I was browsing through the radio stations trying to find a tolerable song to listen to. I stumbled upon a depressing song that began with “Christmas cards have all been sent…” Really now? What sort of person has their Christmas cards all sent on November 9th? Honestly!

I think I would be less ambivalent about it all if Christmas started well, when Christmas really does start. I’m desensitized. It’s just marketed too early. Instead of being excited, giddy, thrilled or even looking forward to the season, I just don’t really care that much.