Saturday, January 31, 2009

After I posted my Starbucks story, I saw this pic of my friend in Iraq. Yes, they do have Starbucks in Iraq. I wonder if the music is as weird and inaccessible there as it is here. Would it be weird by American or Iraqi standards?

Friday, January 30, 2009

Writing at Starbucks

Let me preface this by saying I don't generally hang out at Starbucks. I don't drink coffee, and honestly the place always seemed a bit pretentious to me. I realize a lot of people love Starbucks, a lot of my good friends included. It's just not my thing. I like my caffeine cold...Diet Dr. Pepper anyone? But this week I found myself spending an interesting 2 hours at my local Starbucks.

The ice storm that hit Kentucky so hard this week knocked out my power for a day and a half. A lot of my friends and relatives have it worse so I'm not complaining, but it was frustrating. My kids jumped ship early, choosing to hang out with friends who still had power and working X-Boxes. Bruce went to work, and I was stuck in a 47 degree house with a dead laptop battery and no internet access. So, not being one who enjoys roughing it, I chipped out my ice-encased car and headed over to Starbucks.

My first impression was positive. First and foremost, it was WARM. It smelled good, and the internet access was free. I used a gift certificate one of my students gave me for Christmas and bought a "tall" hot chocolate. It wasn't really that tall, but it tasted fine, and it was nice and hot. I settled in at a cozy little table next to an outlet and plugged in my phone charger and my computer. I checked my email, said hello to some friends on Facebook, and then settled in to get some writing done.

That's when the music seeped into my consciousness.

Oh. My. God.

I'm not a music snob...actually I'm pretty democratic with my tastes. I like rock, pop, some country, bluegrass, the blues, can handle classical, can even tolerate the rap my boys listen to, but this... We started with a folk singer. I like folk music just fine on a limited basis, but someone needed to tell this poor girl they have pills for what ailed her. There were other no-power refugees in the store, and the look on the teenage boy's face across from me was priceless.

I managed to refocus when they switched to jazz. Jazz is great, accessible, a nice background filler, and finally I began to write. I was just starting to get in my zone when the music changed again. This time the lyrics were in Japanese. Okay, fine. I wasn't really listening to the lyrics anyway. Except that this was more like Gregorian chant with Japanese lyrics. WTF...whatever. I tried to disappear back into my manuscript. I'm in the middle of a heartfelt scene between my main characters. It's a turning point in their relationship. Something traumatic happened in the last scene and they have to deal with it. Except how do you chart the course of a relationship with Japanese Gregorian chant in the background? Not to mention the coffee smell was starting to make me mildly nauseous.

I tried. I really did. Finally, I couldn't stand it anymore, and I decided to return to my dark, refrigerated house. I could light a fire in the fireplace, wear my coat, and write longhand on notebook paper. I even stopped on the way and bought a large Diet Dr. Pepper over ice.

I settled in, and the words finally flowed again. And in a moment of pure serendipity, the power came on a half an hour later.

I have a suggestion for President Obama. If you're looking for something to do with the prisoners from Gitmo, consider Starbucks. Oh've already stated unequivocably you are against torture.