Tag Archives: Starbucks

On Those Stupid Red Cups

12 Nov

It’s that time of year again. The time of year when Starbucks, like so many other corporate entities, deck their halls with all things red and white and green and glistening. That time of year when I write about aesthetic and memory.

When I write about Krystina.

I’m not going to write about Christianity or outrage or anger (though I have many thoughts on the first, Katherine writes a pretty goddamn good post on the second, and last year’s post on this topic certainly had a decent dose of the third).

But I am going to write, very briefly, about those red cups.

I hear some people are unhappy with their plainness this year. Maybe it was nearly every corner of the internet posting about it that prepared me, this year, for Starbucks’ holiday makeover. I knew it was coming, this time. I knew Starbucks was going to look like the inside of a candy cane’s daydream. I knew there were going to be the snowflakes, the garlands, the puffy snowmen statues hiding between muffins in the pastry display.

I knew Starbucks was going to look like it did the last time I saw Krystina alive.

She was a creature of past and possibility. Of hurt and healing peeled back and replaced too many times. Of anger and outrage. Of all things red and glistening.

I think she would have appreciated the plainness of Starbucks’ holiday cups this year. Definitely would’ve laughed at the “controversy” they caused. She likely would’ve doodled on the cups. Or maybe just etched the word “fuck” all over them with the blunt end of a dying pen. Equally probable.

appreciate the blankness, this year. Not because of some grand ideological viewpoint, but because I just do. For me, the unadorned red cups feel like a blank slate. Like catching my breath. Like possibility.

I’ve spent the past year shedding the skins of old lives and donning the trappings of new ones. (Blue hair may be up next, folks. I may also be moving to Scotland. Fair warning.) I’ve spent months running from ghosts and exorcising demons. Washing memories off the walls of my existence. Moving on.

I sat in Starbucks today, clutching my blessedly blank red cup and staring at the decorations and listening to the hum in the air of the other lives moving around me.

It didn’t hurt, this time around.



12 Nov

Dear Krystina,

it’s that time of year again, when walking into Starbucks always leaves me feeling a little bit sucker-punched. The walls are draped in that peppermint color, red and white striping everything from the pastry wrappers to the boxes for sale of instant coffee.

It’s those twelve-packs of instant Christmas blend that get me most. Those were your favorite, the only instant coffee acceptable enough for consumption by your standards – though whole-bean roasts were always preferred. I remember those weeks where we bought bag after bag, made affordable only because you worked at Starbucks, had been before it all happened and then were transitioning back again, all those early morning shifts that would turn out to last you all day. I’d miss you when you were gone. I don’t know if I ever told you that.

Oh, and thanks for letting me use your employee number to get discounts on my own personal stash of Christmas blend instant, hidden in the dresser middle drawer between my nicer clothes, out of sight of potential surprise inspections at the house. No, we kept our dutifully decaf coffee on display in the cabinets for those.

You know you were the one who taught me how to make proper drip coffee, right?

Requiem for a Dream was your favorite movie.

You always managed to pull off that leather jacket more than you knew.

You had mad eye-liner skills.

The only thing I have left of you is a single goddamn piece of paper. I was leaving treatment that day, going back out into the world of real people and real triggers and real chance of relapse. But you told me you believed in me. Scrawled a single-line note on that piece of paper. Signed it with “<3 K.”

That’s the only thing I have left of you.

A single goddamn piece of wrinkled paper. That’s not enough for your memory.

I believed in you too.

“<3 K”

I hope the syringe didn’t hurt too much. I hope you didn’t hurt at all, in the end. God and all his damned angels know you spent too much time paying debts that weren’t yours with pain that was, while you were here.

The Starbucks are looking like peppermint, Krystina. Guess it’s time to buy a bag of Christmas blend again.


18 Jan

I don’t give homeless people money. I just don’t. I’ve had enough personal experience with wavering in the face of choosing a necessity versus the easy way out to know better than to just hand out money.

However, while I won’t give out money, I will give out breakfast, or a granola bar, or a scarf, or whatever it happens to be that the homeless person is actually needing at that moment. It’s much more practical and much more effective than just handing out a dollar bill.

Now for a segue. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings I walk dogs for my friends the Stangels. Because I’m an insomniac and have a bit of a phobia of being late, I occasionally find myself arriving near the Stangels’ neighborhood with a half hour to an hour to spare. So, I’ve created this nice ritual of heading to the Starbucks up the street and hanging out there with a cup of coffee and a spot of writing.

This morning was one of those Starbucks mornings. I became so absorbed in the snippet of story I was writing that when I finally came to, I realized I only had a few minutes to get to the Stangels’ house. However, on my way out of Starbucks, I was accosted by a homeless woman whom I had once bought breakfast for. She asked if I had some change to spare for a cup of coffee. My brain whirred into a quick mental calculation, figuring that I didn’t have enough to both buy the woman breakfast and make it to the Stangels’ on time. Besides, I’m a poor college student. It’s not like I have  that much to spare.

So, guiltily, I said no. No, I didn’t sorry. Sorry.

Really? Really? As soon as I turned to head towards my car, the mental recriminations started. Did I really have nothing to spare? Was I really so destitute that I couldn’t help this woman out? Was I really that busy that I couldn’t spare a few minutes to help? Would the Stangels really care if I were five minutes late to dog-walking? A modern-day “good Samaritan study” I’d read about in which results showed that those who were time-pressed were less likely to stop to help someone flashed through my mind. Then the image of Jesus standing there (hey, I’m Christian) asking for a cup of coffee flashed through my mind next, with me answering “no.”

No, sorry, I’m too busy. No, sorry, I don’t feel like being that generous today…

Yup. That did it. I was thoroughly convicted. I’d reached my car, opened the car door, and set my own cup of coffee in the consul holder. But then, instead of loading myself into the car, I shut the door, turned back around, and fished in my purse for my wallet.

“Actually,” I said, approaching the woman, “actually I do have change to spare. Would you like breakfast?”

The woman, whose name I later found out was Rosalie, smiled.

Turkey sandwich and small cup of coffee it was.