2

End of the Season

So, it’s officially the end of the season.

Pumpkin Spice season, that is.

The weather in Madison has dropped thirty degrees this week, and despite not liking Pumpkin Spice Lattes, I do enjoy other pumpkin spice products. Today, I looked for a box of Pumpkin Spice Cheerios in the store and they were all gone. Creeping in behind the Halloween candy, the chocolate Santas anticipate their return.

I guess all we can do now is wait for Starbucks’ Holiday Drinks to come back.

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7

A Free Coffee and An Update on Yesterday’s Goals

So, today, I went to my favorite Madison-area Starbucks, the one on University and North Blackhawk. Since they were out of cold brew, I decided to get an iced East Timor Peaberry. About halfway through it, I realized that it didn’t taste so great. I told the barista that it didn’t taste quite right, and they said that it was towards the end of their supply. They asked me if I wanted it remade, but I just asked for a regular iced coffee instead.

While I was sipping the replacement iced coffee and writing letters 9 and 10 of my 16 Penpals for 2016, one of the head baristas came over to me with a gift card, saying: “you come here often, you appreciate good coffee, and you took a downgrade from your Reserve coffee to a regular iced coffee.” I told him it wasn’t necessary, but he insisted I take a $4 gift card.

So now I have a Starbucks gift card.

I had a somewhat productive day, with some of my goals accomplished, or started on, from my list:

  • Finished and returned 1 library book from the old stack, and 1 from the newer stack.
  • Exercised.
  • Wrote to 6 new blog friends.
  • Got 101 views on yesterday’s post.

Hey, it’s a start.

1

Happy In(Dependence) Day

The past few days have been kind of torturous, so before I get into the fun story of the day, here’s what up with me:

Thursday: Day 5 of the Get Yourself Together and Eat Healthy Diet. Pretty normal day, do a 20 minute interval run in the early evening. Once at home, I start to feel completely rotten. I’m hot and cold, my legs are numb, and I’m feeling dehydrated. Oh well, says I, probably a side-effect of running too much. Maybe I’ll head to bed a little earlier than normal (about midnight).

Friday: Wake up at 8:00 AM sharp, to…pain. Everywhere. My neck, my chest, my shoulders, my torso, my legs. I feel like I’m preparing for a full body X-ray with a suit of lead. I manage to get up, eat something…and then head back to bed, walking through my apartment at about 40% speed. I cave and have some cranberry lemonade that I find in the back of the fridge, then lie in bed, completely awake and completely motionless, for 3-4 hours. Torso and legs are still achy and numb, but I manage to sit up and then stand with less pain. Operating at 65% now, I manage to get some more food, get dressed, and head out for the day…at around 5:00 PM. After getting gas, I stop at Walgreens and wander around like a zombie until I manage to locate a thermometer, because my temperature is feeling wacky and I’m sweating. I take my temperature in the car, and maybe it’s the heat but I’m 99.6 degrees. No wonder I’m feeling rotten. I pop a few Advil. Next stop: Starbucks, to say hey to my favorite barista Lacey and get my daily iced coffee, probably a bad idea, but I need some caffeine. Head home an hour or two later, still feeling blah, and get ready to go to Chabad, giving myself extra time because I’m now operating closer to 81% than 65%. Take my temperature, and it’s 98.3, so maybe the heat from outside affected it. Go to Chabad for dinner, forgoing all carbs but a piece of challah, and head back home early, at about 9:45. I’m feeling a lot better now, but still I take 2 Advil and go to sleep.

Today: Up at 5:45, dehydrated and in pain. 2 more Advil and back to bed. Wake up around noon, almost as achy as I woke up the day before. Manage to get out of bed for yogurt and coffee (late breakfast) and a salami sandwich on lettuce (lunch). Now it’s just after 4:00 PM, and though my joints are less achy, this might not be the best day to go for a run since the gym is closed, which was my original plan. My temperature is 99.3, but it’s probably because I’ve been in my apartment all day, so maybe I should take a short walk outside or something.

I think I lost a little weight, maybe: Last night I weighed myself, and it looked like I had gained weight, but I weighed myself again right now, and it was five pounds LESS than last night, so by splitting the difference, I probably stayed the same or lost 1 pound since I weighed myself a month ago. I’ve heard that after about 2 weeks on the diet, the weight comes off, so I’m hoping to see what happens by this time next week and go from there. I don’t want to be on this diet forever – I want croissants when I get to Montreal! – but we’ll see how I do up until then, hopefully, which is a month from now.

But now, the story of the day…

Last night, I managed to get myself to Chabad for dinner, and just as I was sitting down at the table, we were doing the going-around-the-table doing introductions and answering a question. This week’s question was: what are you thankful for about America?

The answers were pretty banal and almost Miss America-esque, with people saying things like “I’m thankful for religious freedom,” “I’m thankful for a strong economy,” and “I’m thankful to feel safe everyday.”

Then, it’s my turn. My response?

“I’m Jacob, and I’m thankful for Target.”

A few snickers from the table, but I’m pretty serious. Who cares about freedom of religion when you can go to one store and get a laptop case, light bulbs, q-tips, bath towels, colored pencils, sweatpants, and a Nestle Crunch bar? Come on, friends, what do you think about more: free press, or shopping?

And, by the way, your freedom of religion? Tell that to black churches in the South. Strong economy? Europe has free education, and we’re not quite out of the woods with this recession thing. And…feeling safe? Try being a woman, an African-American, or identifying as LGBT. Being a cis-gender white male, I feel marginally safe in this country, and I might be totally wrong about the above three categories of people feeling safe, but were I one of them, I think I’d definitely feel at least a few moments of vulnerability here and there living in this country, especially in light of recent events in here in the good old US of A.

My first choice answer was actually Starbucks, but oddly enough, I did not want to sound too materialistic.

Happy July 4th, y’all. I’m off to celebrate with more salami and lettuce.

4

What Not To Wear, Retail Edition

It happened to me again today.

Well, not really, but something close.

Maybe it’s me, but it seems like it happens to me a lot more often than others.

Or maybe I just don’t see it happening to anyone else but me.

“Where are the bathrooms?”

“How much are these towels?”

“How does this attach to my computer?”

These are questions commonly asked when I wear certain items of clothing to certain stores. I found this out the hard way, failed to correct my mistakes, and it happened again and again. It also does not help that I am a young, white male; many older female shoppers (read: many shoppers) tend to gravitate towards someone of my stature and build rather than, say, an older male, a non-white male, or an older woman. Younger women often get similar treatment, especially at places like Abercrombie or the Gap. It also does not help when I wear my keys around my neck like a lanyard; that really throws people for a loop. But to most, it’s the clothes that meet the eye first, and the proliferation of consolidated American businesses mean that the consumer has gotten lazier about seeking help in stores. Behold…

That’s So Jacob Presents: What Not to Wear, Retail Edition

Target: A red polo and khakis. This has happened to me several times, even when just wearing a red t-shirt. To be on the safe side, just never ever wear red to Target. Ever. This includes pink, magenta, maroon, scarlet, and crimson. Don’t even wear red underwear to Target.

Best Buy: See above, but in blue. Also, avoid wearing glasses. Due to the extreme lack of employee care in a Best Buy, if you manage to  wear blue and escape the store without getting mobbed, consider yourself extremely lucky.

Apple Store: Similar to Best Buy, try to avoid blue and glasses. Bring a book to look super non-technological. Or even ::gasp:: a periodical.

Home Depot: If you left the house in plaid, go home, change, and spare yourself the incessant questioning on drill bits.

Starbucks: Avoid aprons. I am not sure why anyone would go to Starbucks in their apron unless they had just come in from the dairy, in which case, you better have a good explanation planned for your cows when you come back from your lunch break with a foreign-teated iced latte.

Any preppie mall shop: Don’t go dressed to impress. Who wants fashion tips from a chick in sweats?

Any pharmacy (CVS/Walgreens especially): If you work as a nurse, veterinarian, or dental hygienist, do yourself a favor and have a spare outfit in your car for that emergency Twix, lunchtime Fiji water, or picking up dryer sheets on the way home. If you have an ID badge, they might actually put you to work.

Dollar store: Leave the acrylic nails at home. One look at your hands and they’ll be asking you where the cosmetics are. However, if you do own acrylic nails and frequent the store, you could probably actually be of help to him/her.

Department store: Clinton and Stacy love blazers, but if you look too much like a perfume sprayer…you might be mistaken for one.

Airplane: Yeah, put the bomber jacket in your luggage unless you’re preparing to take over in the cockpit in case of emergency. This would probably also be a good place where should someone ask you what you are wearing, call it an aviator jacket. And if you have a coordinated pantsuit or skirt suit and a brightly-colored scarf, don’t be surprised if someone asks you when the in-flight beverage service is going to start.

Middle Eastern marketplace: Avoid caftans and turbans, unless you want to confuse the tourists and anger the locals. Thanks, Israel!

On the other hand, maybe I should dress like an employee and just pick up a paycheck. For being awesome.

2

In A Pickle

After spending a good portion of the last three days in the house (and most of that time asleep), I actually got out of the house and went to Corner Bakery for a sandwich, and then over to Starbucks for a caramel macchiato. Opening the plastic bag, I took out the sandwich I ordered, which came with a bag of chips, and wrapped in a thin, paper napkin inside the plastic container containing the sandwich, was a spear of a pickle.

Most sandwich orders (in America, at least; well, save for Subway) include chips and a pickle. Usually if those items are listed on the menu, I say, no thanks. Most times, they are not, and it’s only after you’ve ordered, received, paid for, and eaten part of the sandwich, that you realize that the pickle is there. Sometimes it’s a whole pickle, but usually it’s just a spear, and usually a mushy spear. I don’t know quite where this tradition originated, but it was probably at a delicatessen somewhere in New York City.

I have mixed feelings about this.

First off, I have nothing against pickles. Yes, they’re high in sodium, don’t really have much in the way of nutritional value, and are about as close to the vegetable family as popcorn, but when pickled correctly, they can be tasty. I’m not too fond of sweet pickles, but dill pickles can be a nice snack once in a while.

But the juicy dill pickle is a far cry from the average deli pickle, which is usually mushy, gross, and tasteless. I am almost convinced that every sandwich shop just has a bucket of these awful, soggy pickles, just like every pizza place has the same tasteless salad, with huge tomato chunks too big to fit in your mouth and tiny shreds of carrots and red cabbage that either get stuck in your teeth, or, if you’re on the go, end up in your lap or on your shirt. Sandwich shops don’t even bother to present the pickles nicely; usually they’re wadded in either cling wrap or a soggy paper napkin.

Taking it out of the sandwich container with contempt, I contemplated what to do with it; eat it, or do something else with it? Eating it has its disadvantages, as I’ve stated above. There are a few things you can do with that undesirable pickle. You can throw it away, but like I previously stated in the plastic cup lid conspiracy post, that would be wasteful. Unlike the lid, this pickle is actual, edible food, so it makes the act a bit more wasteful. On the other hand, who would eat that pickle? If you have a friend that enjoys eating them, and they’re sitting at your table, then you’re in luck. If not, there are very few options. Waving it in the air and yelling “My pickle’s up for grabs!” will get you more than one blank stare, and may get you kicked out of the restaurant. You could always give it back, claiming that you didn’t order it, thereby getting it off your hands with a clean conscience, but somehow I think that it’ll end up in the garbage, even if it is still wrapped in plastic. Any way you slice, you’re either going to have to face that briny cucumber and make a decision that you can live with.

Anyway.

I unwrapped the pickle from its soggy napkin, some of which tore off and remained stuck to it, resulting in me having to peel it off with my fingertips. Trying to forget the sodium content and the bland taste, I sucked it up and sucked it down.

Wow, that is a terrible ending to a story.

Deli pickles are gross and should cease to exist.

But you can always have mine.

Take it.

Please.

0

Lids

Today, I woke up and got a cup of iced coffee before heading to campus.

Then, I went to campus, and having barely taken a sip, I left it on the floor of the classroom where I took my final exam, and then ten minutes later when I realized that I didn’t have it anymore, I went back to get it and there was already another class in there taking a final.

So I went and got another iced coffee.

At most coffee places, the cup sizes vary. The same can be said of a lingerie shop. Unlike Victoria’s Secret, however, to transport the goods more easily, a lid is helpful, whether the beverage is hot or cold. At good places – and Starbucks – the baristas give you a cup with a lid already on it. Just grab a straw and you’re good to go. However, life isn’t always this cut and dry. A good number of times you order a cup of coffee, you get just the cup and the drink inside it, leaving you to face…

THE LID TRAY.

Sitting among the pitchers of half-and-half and the multiple varieties of sugar packets, are a tray of carefully factory-formed circles that threaten you with a look. These…are the lids. In most cafes, the lids come in different sizes. This may seem like a simple task, but you will choose the wrong one every time. You reach for it, put it on…and it’s too small. Or too big. No amount of stretching or wishing can change its size. No amount of spatial imagining can allow you to pick the correct one. As you admit to your failure, you have two options to rectify the situation.

  1. Put it back. No one saw you, and your hand barely touched the thing, which only came in contact with that and the lip of the cup. Nobody will ever know the difference, you’ll take another and continue with your life. But wait…did a drop of your drink get on it that may not be identical to the next person’s drink? Did it touch any liquid residue on the counter? Did you attempt to put it on the cup but had unknowingly taken a sip at the register, therefore potentially transferring your germs? Fear not: there’s another option.
  2. Dispose of it. Toss that thing in the trash. It’s dirty. In fact, it never existed. But wait…it did, and since it’s plastic, it’s probably not recyclable and will be another piece of some out-of-state landfill that is plaguing our planet and slowly obliterating our ozone layer, thereby endangering the air we breather and that your children will breathe.

You only have two options. Both are equally painful, but it’s like a bandage – just rip it off and deal with it, because crying in front of sugar and stirrers is not the thing to do in public these days. Besides, they didn’t ruin your life – their artificially created, non-biodegradable friends did.

So, in conclusion, there is none. You will always fail.

Oh well, at least you have an iced coffee to cheer you up.

Until you leave it in someone else’s kitchen later that day, and then realize that you’ve been drinking from your waterbottle and you didn’t buy a coffee at all.

0

Five Things I Like and Five Things I Don’t Like

Five Things I Don’t Like:

1) Not sleeping all night.

2) The noisy carpet cleaning people.

3) Getting started on a brand new project, from complete scratch. Blank page phobia.

4) Flies in the kitchen.

5) Anything involving dishes or the dishwasher.

Five Things I Like:

1) Spending 2 (almost 3) hours in the gym.

2) When the kitchen is clean, trash is gone, and laundry is folded.

3) Starbucks Refreshers Strawberry Lemonade.

4) This week’s New York Times Sunday crossword.

5) The gentle wafting smell of dinner in the oven.