02 October 2008

"Cause you want to belong...do you go along?"

While I could sit here and lie to you that there are not many things in the world that bother me, this is not the case. Unfortunately, there is a list of things that get on my nerves, and since this is my blog and I can talk about whatever in the world I feel like, I shall now speak on one of them.


Please don't hate me and judge me right now. At least wait until the end of this and give me a chance to explain. And I shall start with this as an explanation: it's not just Starbucks, but most coffee in general. Or rather, the way people think about and drink coffee.

I am a self-proclaimed mild-coffee snob. And since I work with coffee and know how to pull a perfect shot of espresso and steam milk to the right consistency for a great cappuccino, I think that I have a right to be somewhat. However, if you want to discuss real coffee with a real coffee snob, please check out this crazy kid and request his opinion. Since working with coffee, I have come to a couple of general conclusions: (1) people rarely really like coffee, (2) what people prefer is the idea of coffee rather then the actual beverage, (3) people feel "professional" or "cool" to be seen with a coffee cup in hand and so they drink it, and (4) people like the caffeine associated with coffee. Going from the top down, (1)- I watch people everyday order a coffee and then drown it in sugar and cream. This is no longer coffee, but sugar-milk with a slight coffee taste and a caffeine kick. (2)- Goes along with (1). Instead of enjoying the taste of coffee- and we're talking straight brewed coffee, nothing fancy like a mocha latte- people like the image that drinking coffee gives them, whether that be a grown up and professional look or a middle/high schooler carrying java around. These people probably fill the cup half full of flavoured creamer, and add some coffee in. (3) Goes back to (2). I remember in high school and even some in middle school how "cool" it seemed to go hang out at the local coffee house and order a drink. Even if I just got a steamer or hot chocolate. (4) Caffeine. Self-explanatory, and the only reason that drinks like Red Bull and Monster are popular.

Now. Since I have explained a little, I shall now continue on to Starbucks, which is a coffee shop so all of the generalizations from before fit in here. This shop is vastly popular for some reason. Maybe it's the fact that "small, medium, and large" are not good enough, and we had to go "tall, vente, and grande." But "tall" isn't that tall so let's not call it that, ok? Because honestly, their coffee is bitter and not that good. And frappuccino. Oh I hate these. I have, on occasion, ordered this drink when I wanted a drink that was something like a milkshake, so I'm not judging people who like it, but let's face it: the coffee taste in this is about a 0.4. But these really have little to do with coffee. The place I work has a drink similar to this called a "frappe." A lady came in one morning and ordered it, telling me, "I just have to have one of these every morning. I need the caffeine and I'm addicted." I looked at her and as kindly as I could explained that at least the way that we make it, there is no espresso in it and I couldn't promise there actually was any caffeine in it at all. She was really surprised, but was ok with me offering to make her a mocha latte which does in fact contain espresso and was probably something more what she was looking for.

Maybe the point isn't that people really don't like coffee but rather the idea of it. Maybe it's not that Starbucks annoys me, but rather that it is a trend. Maybe what it really boils down to is that it annoys me that people feel the need to need something to make themselves feel better. I didn't like coffee in high school. I didn't like the taste. So why did I get a cappuccino from Speedway? Why did I order a mocha latte from the local coffee shop? Because both of these drinks are loaded up with flavouring that masks the taste of coffee. The caffeine did it's job and I felt "cool" and that I "fit in" because I was drinking an adult-type drink. Now, I like the taste of coffee and almost always drink it straight black. In high school, I felt the need to try and fit in. All my friends were drinking coffee and specialty coffee drinks, I wanted to also, so I got one that drowned out the bad taste to get to the good stuff. Fortunately for me, it was coffee and not something like a Jack and coke or screwdrivers or something along those lines.

What's my point. Trendy icons. I think that's it. If you truly like a good cup o' joe, go for it. If you truly like your vente, double skinny latte, be my guest. But what did you do in high school to try and fit in or to make yourself appear cool? Coffee was apparently one of mine.
Why can't we all just be comfortable with who we are? More importantly, how far will people go to try and fit in?

and ps. The title of this is from a great song that really hit home for me in highschool called Hero by Superchic[k].

23 September 2008

Even the smallest person can change the course of history

I've been thinking a lot recently about the impact that people leave on others, and about how everyone, in some way, helps to influence someone.
Have you ever thought about the fact that how you act and what you do will leave an impression on people? I have been becoming more aware of this recently. I have been given an opportunity to leave good or bad impressions on people daily, through work or through my interaction with others. Think about it for a second: unless you are a hermit, you interact with people everyday. Do you really think that the things you say and the things that you do go unnoticed? Do you think that your bad mood went unnoticed by the person who always looks to you to be upbeat and get encouragement from? I can almost guarantee that most of your actions are being observed by someone. A great quote I heard once that says "A smile can brighten the darkest day." Someone once told me once that he viewed bad moods as being selfish. Years later, I agree with him. I hate being in bad moods: it's a waste of time. When I'm in a bad mood, it brings the others around me down too because I'm grumpy and that is not the impact and impression I want to leave people about myself. You have the chance to leave a great impact on another person just by the way that you present yourself to the world, even if it is not who you truly are. What I mean by this is that someone could look up to you, and totally respect you...when you are not really living a life worthy of having that respect. I talked with someone once who was and still is a person that others look up to...a leader actually, not a follower by any means. He explained how he felt he was not worthy of such a position because "there are others better." Even though he feels like this, he knows that he is in this position for a reason and is doing his best to fill it. The option that he faced was whether or not to embrace this role...or run the other way.
I never pictured myself as anyone important, or someone who would leave good impressions or impact others. I am noticing though that apparently I am that person, and everyone is. There is a guy I work with who is in his mid-20s and slightly mentally challenged who has a horrible home life. Because I told him he could always talk to me and tried to befriend him, I left an impression on him and made him feel comfortable enough to come and cry on my shoulder one day because of something at home. In return, he left an impression on me as well. Kind of the defining moment for me that made me realize that I can and do leave impressions on people, and made me want to ensure that it is a good one is something that happened yesterday.
A gentleman came into work and walked up to the counter. I said hello to him and asked how I could help him and he looked at me, thought for a second and asked, "This might sound crazy, but did you by any chance get your flights delayed from American Airlines a few months ago?" At which point I realized why I recognized him...he and his wife were on their way to St. Kits for vacation, and I was headed to Ohio in April, and were standing behind me in line when we found out that 98% of the AA flights had been canceled. We waited for 2-3 hours in line to try and find out if we could be re-booked with another airline and this couple and I got to talking and realized we were both from Goodyear and I worked at the PB&C that had just opened up. 5 months later, he remembered who I was and asked if I ever made it to my destination. That was an incredibly frustrating day but I did my best to stay positive, and I wonder if I would have been remembered if I'd been pessimistic and complained about it the entire time.
So I ask this question: what kind of impact are you leaving? Do your actions live out your words, or are you just all talk? Just because you feel that you are nobody to the world, you might just be the world to somebody and you don't even realize it. David in the Bible was a "nobody," or so he and everyone else thought. Turns out he kills a guy which causes a major Biblical victory and is eventually crowned king. Who would have thought.
Think about it. What are you doing?

15 September 2008

Bring the Rain..

So. Here I am.
8 months and 16 days into Arizona. The reason I mention this is because of the peace that I am finding.

Peace is something it seems that I have been seeking for the past several months with little or no luck. I have prayed and struggled and it's been hard. But recently, things have taken a turn.

I have spent many hours in prayer since moving out here, begging and pleading with God to show me why I have had to go through this and what I'm supposed to be learning. I feel like some days it was just me saying words, "God, give me peace." Then the turning point came. While I did not feel I was a scratching at the bottom of the barrel, I feel like I was not too far from it. I was sad, I was homesick and getting tired of it. I cried out to God one day during my quiet time and He answered. Not in anything I heard, but through my repeated prayer of "God take this pain from me, give me peace," I felt it. Peace...so calming.

John 14:27 (NLT)-- "I am leaving you with a gift- peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don't be troubled or afraid."
Seriously, right there in front of me. The whole time. I love it when I miss the obvious...it happens a lot.

"Bring the Rain" is a song by MercyMe that talks about walking through trials and struggles.
Maybe since my life was changed Long before these rainy days It's never really ever crossed my mind To turn my back on you, oh Lord My only shelter from the storm But instead I draw closer through these times So I pray Bring me joy, bring me peace Bring the chance to be free Bring me anything that brings You glory And I know there'll be days When this life brings me pain But if that's what it takes to praise You Jesus, bring the rain
The song also has a part that says something to the effect of, no matter what comes, I am yours and I'll trust in You.

Something I think I am learning about peace is that I didn't receive it and I don't always have it. It is something I have to strive daily to obtain and continually seek God and ask for from Him about. Many days are harder then others and I feel lost. Those are the days that Jesse has to tell me it's all going to be alright and reassure me. Sometimes, what you're looking the hardest for is right in front of you and you just have to ask for it. Ask for peace.