Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Starbucks Without Bucks

I'm writing this from the Starbucks on 181st Street, though I won’t be able to plug it into the blog until later tonight. After blowing a month’s rent on this iBook, I couldn’t justify the extra $100 for the airport card.

I see that the Invisible Adjunct is on a short hiatus. I'm making some changes around here, too. For the past six months, I've been making two or three short entries during the day. I'm finding that too hard to maintain, now that Large Baby is no longer taking a morning nap and is showing his displeasure with my lack of attention by tossing Lego in the toilet. One longish post in the evening is going to work better for me. Although I can get competitive about being the first on the block to talk about an issue, it is just not possible. I can’t be that kind of blogger.

It’s a full house in Starbucks this afternoon. Like me, everyone is equipped with laptops, cell phones, personal data organizers. And decaf lattes. I scorned Starbucks when it first opened its doors in the neighborhood. The harbinger of gentrification and higher rents. But this chain coffee shop with all its boring predictability is really a godsend. It’s a place to work. The local branch library is pathetic, and the university library is a 40 minute bus ride away. 40 minutes of precious baby sitting time. So, here I am. With my book, laptop, and a grande.

And everybody loves Starbucks. We live in a neighborhood of old German Jews, young hipsters, Dominicans, and some Russians. They seem to favor particular shops. The Dominicans get their Cuban sandwiches, fried ham and cheese on a roll, at the bodegas. The German Jewish ladies follow Dr. Ruth to the local diner for their sandwiches. And the hipsters go to the overpriced lounge. But all groups seem to have a hankering for a latte.

Gee, I feel like an ad. Starbucks, home to working mothers everywhere and a huge spoon in this melting pot we call America. On the other hand, $1.90 for a small coffee sucks even by NYC standards.

So, what am I doing in this Starbucks? Working. I have taken a semester off from adjuncting to write a few academic articles and one or two mainstream pieces. We’ll see how this goes.

The trouble with this semester o' writing is that no money is coming in. Yeah, the adjuncting paid like shit, but still it was something. This semester, money is a big question mark. Luckily, my employment is not required to pay the rent, but I do like getting a paycheck now and then. I like getting that thin, boring envelope in the mail. I like ripping off the stub and leaving it by the side of my husband’s computer for its input into Quicken. I like it when the ATM sucks up the check and makes that satisfying thumping sound as the ATM digests. Burp. Direct deposit? No way!

I'm off for the evening to catch up on the day's worth of commentary on Iowa and the state of the union. For all the Dean supporters who are too humiliated to watch the evening news, may I recommend the excellent blog rundown from Ms. Magazine's Christine Cupaiuolo. (Thanks, Christine.)

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