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Errantry: Novak's Journal
...Words to cast/My feelings into sculpted thoughts/To make some wisdom last
Personal: Betrayed By Starbucks 
21st-Dec-2009 11:36 am
Sitting Duck/Art of Michael Bedard
Drat. Drat. Drat.

I discovered yesterday that the Starbucks downstairs is closed over the entire break for renovations. This entirely wrecks my imagined next four weeks, since the Raynor and Memorial Libraries on campus won't be open past 6pm or on weekends, and so I figured to spend my evenings writing in Starbucks. Say what you will about it being a soulless corporate shell of a coffeehouse when compared to the authentic independent coffeehouses of our land, but it was my soulless corporate shell of a coffeehouse – conveniently located around the corner on my block and one of the few entities (usually) remaining open when the students are away, and the only one I can get to, park, and write without having to travel or to fight off frequent addict panhandlers.

So drat.

I can set up my laptop in my office, of course, but I do like the buzz of some slight human activity in the background, and the vague illusion of human interaction involved in ordering an occasional drink or piece of yummy lemon loaf. When the students all vanish from the university for the holidays, there's always a sudden crash of a feeling of isolation or a sort of "background" loneliness, even though the people absent aren't Close, Personal Friends of Mine. Writing in Starbucks was always a nice balance against that sudden transformation of the university into a ghost town solely inhabited by East and South Asian graduate students in Computer Science shuffling to and from the computer lab at odd hours.
21st-Dec-2009 07:06 pm (UTC)
You're preaching to the choir when it comes to the open-at-all-hours/close proximity benefits of Starbucks. And, while I find that here in the South they add way too much sugar when I go through the drive-thru and request "cream and sugar"), for the most part, when you order coffee at Starbucks, you know what you'll get. It's just not the case for a lot of local independent coffeehouses I've been to here. In the northwest, indy coffeeshops are the best, but here they are a sad and sorry gamble, nine cases out of ten. And they all close early.

22nd-Dec-2009 02:02 am (UTC)
Huh. I didn't expect such sympathetic responses! :-) We do have a good local set of coffeehouses called Alterra that do their own bean business, but I happen to loathe coffee, so I miss out on all that. (I drink the hot chocolate and apple cider in coffeehouses.) The reason (other than being a block closer) that I've been favouring the Starbucks instead of the Marquette campus "Brew Bayou" has been that I've been more in the mood for the 1940s-50s jazz and country mix on the (softer) speakers of Starbucks than the loud punk on the speakers of the campus place.
21st-Dec-2009 08:35 pm (UTC)
I hear ya on this. I had all but permanently moved into the Second Cup [Canadian equivalent of Starbucks, strangely named such a derivative thing - Second Cup? Second to what?] by my house for work on the days when I didn't need to be talking over a mic - and sometimes on the days that I did.

Even just having other humans walking around in the background - the semblance of still being involved in the Greater Realm of Human Activity - was a big deal to me. Suddenly, that old due the next table over reading something complicated-looking about the evolution of the Gaelic language was my co-worker in some great enterprise. (Working alone takes you the meta level of existence quite quickly. I'll say that for it.)
22nd-Dec-2009 02:03 am (UTC)
Ah. It's a relief to hear you agree with that description, and to know that I wasn't reading too much into that, existentially speaking.
22nd-Dec-2009 02:19 am (UTC)
Or at least not more than me! Whether that's too much or not, uh.... I might not be the best judge.
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