Thx but no thx

Internet slang and acronyms are not new concepts. Even I succumbed to typing “OMG,” though I resisted for the longest time.

Over the course of time, internet acronyms such as DIAF, GTFO, IDGAF, FML, and other acronyms made their way into my regular chat and texting life, too.

(I still don’t use IDK, bae, fleek snatched, fam, or any of the new-fangled words that the kids are using these days.)

One thing that sticks in my craw and I can’t get unstuck is when people use “thx,” especially in email. I kind-of-but-not-really understand when people text “thx” if they’re in that big of a hurry, but when it appears in an email (particularly a work email), all I can think is, “Really?”

Considering I still send handwritten thank-you notes, it probably isn’t a surprise to people who know me that I abhor “Thx.” Another one that makes me want to light myself on fire is “K.” I flat out don’t understand wasting a text with “K” when the O is just above it, for starters, and if you’re not 10, it seems to me that more of a response is warranted.

Go ahead, text me "K."

Go ahead, text me “K.”

While I understand we live in a hectic world where time feels of the essence 24 hours a day, can we take two extra seconds to make the recipient feel worthy of a reply, and at least spell out “Thanks” or “Okay” or insert some emojis to convey, “Message received”? In a technological universe where our phone software has automated replies AND shortcuts that you can program into your phone, e.g. type “thx” and it spells out “Thank you” or “Thanks,” the excuses seem to fall away, in my opinion. We’re not typing these replies on numbered tactile keys anymore. It doesn’t take typing 84499 to do “thx” any longer.

If you are a person who uses “thx” or “k” on the regular, I’d love to hear a case made for it. We seem to be eroding courtesy and etiquette one letter at a time with each of these abbreviated responses, and my reaction to that is,

could-you-not

The Best Blog Post You’ll Ever Read. Period.

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of hyperbolic headlines. They plague even the most banal of stories these days.

I can’t scroll through nary a social media feed without reading grabbers similar to these (totally made up by me):

“This puppy walked by a church….and what this grandmother did next will blow your mind.”
“The Ten Most Amazing Habits You Should Always Do for the Rest of Your Life.”
“Five Post-It Note Colors You MUST Have in Your Office Drawer at Work RIGHT NOW.”

I wish I were exaggerating but here is a screen shot pulled from today’s headlines from one of the worst offenders:

upworthy-zoesays

Really? Things I should “NEVER, EVER” say to a teacher? There are “NO” jobs? You want to applaud “for days?”

Words like “always,” “never,” “only, “best,” worst,” and loads of other superlatives pepper hundreds of thousands of posts each and every day, all screaming for clicks and attention. At first, it was kind of novel. The too long headlines, reminiscent of people who write an entire email in the subject line, appeared quirky and stood out.

Then everyone in the free world caught on and instead of being funny or inviting me to click on the article, the tactic simply makes me hate reading anything on the internet. And that sucks, because I love reading, and I enjoy scanning headlines to see what’s actually going on in the world. Don’t make me want to quit you, interwebs. (Which we all know I can’t.)

Look, we all have to make a living, but the creation of these sensationalized headlines for mundane everyday occurrences has become telemarketing for our eyeballs. Can we leave yellow journalism where it belongs–a hundred years in the past?

There is a glimmer of hope. The folks at Google have begun working on this issue; a programmer has created a plugin for Chrome called Downworthy, which takes hyperbolic headlines and translates them into more realistic language.

Examples include “Will Blow Your Mind” converting to “Might Perhaps Mildly Entertain You For a Moment”, “Can’t Even Handle” becoming “Can Totally Handle Without Any Significant Issue”, “Literally” becoming “Figuratively” and “Right Now” becoming “Eventually”.

I can’t say I won’t be downloading that plugin. It’s one creative solution to this pervasive problem, short of authors (“authors”) actually coming up with headlines that are relevant and non-irritating. (You can read more about the plugin on CNET.)

On the other hand, if you’re not completely sick of clickbait, you can take part in this guy’s competition to create the best, most hyperbolic headline: see markpollard.net.

Since I am one of the ones who is completely worn out by the boy-who-cried-wolf compulsive-liar syndrome that is passing for journalism, my plea is simply….STOP IT!

I Want a Valium for Thanksgiving, Charlie Brown.

©1973 United Feature Syndicate Inc.

©1973 United Feature Syndicate Inc.

My job can be quite stressful. It can therefore keep me away from blogging for lengthy periods of time, especially when there are deadlines right before a long holiday weekend. Like this week!

When at last this long-but-short week came to an end, the relief was palpable. I could finally, completely, head-to-toe relax, even if all that meant was taking a breather between work and beginning to prepare for Thanksgiving and what I’d be contributing to our family meal this year.

I pride myself on my pumpkin pies. Sure, they’re like, the easiest pie to make out of All The Pies, but it’s one of the few–literally a few–things I actually take pleasure in making, and I have my little tricks to make them especially delicious. Furthermore, once I know how to perfect something to my own unique standards, it’s kind of compulsive for me to have to make it. Even if I weren’t going to bring it to a family meal, I wouldn’t be able to not make it. It’s my little Billy Bob Thornton thing.

What I love about this particular time of year is that the holiday season gets into full swing. Stores are an explosion of green and red, and homes and storefronts alike are decked out in lights, garlands, and wreaths. The dude and I have established a couple of our own holiday traditions, including getting a Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving and getting out all of the Christmas tchotchkes. (“Christmas tchotchkes” just might be an oxymoron, but I’m going with it, anyway.) There really is something special about this time of year that I cherish dearly.

To go with that special holiday feeling is the underlying stress of getting everything done in time for family gatherings, and holiday parties, and gift exchanges, and shipping presents off in time to be opened on Christmas Day, and blowing your wad on stuff you don’t need staying on budget. But we also have a particular salve for that stress: the holiday specials. Do a cursory search for “Christmas” on Netflix or your cable guide and there are no fewer than several hundred airings of all different specials and movies for an entire month. Heck, we’ve already seen Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer and it’s not even December yet!

As you may know, we are huge Charlie Brown/Peanuts fans. These holiday specials in particular hold a special place in our hearts, along with millions of others’, I’m sure.

HOWEVER: although I am well aware that it is impossible to freeze children’s voices so they can produce dozens of holiday specials just for the sake of continuity, there are only a few of the Charlie Brown holiday specials I can tolerate aside from the original and sacred A Charlie Brown Christmas. The producers of that special did way too good of a job with casting and have subsequently ruined me for most of the other specials. There is one in particular I can not stomach, and it is A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.

First things first: the only voices that sound genuine to the characters, in this blogger’s opinion, are Marcie’s and Peppermint Patty’s. Patty’s tomboy gruffness is dead on and Marcie’s sweet squeaks are endearing. All of the other main characters sound totally off, rendering them all L’Etranger. My suspension of disbelief just ain’t happening.

Secondly, Charlie’s extremely low self-esteem notwithstanding (and it really is quite heartbreaking, between his depression about holidays in general, being tricked by Lucy once again on kicking the football, and being steamrolled by Patty et al. as they invite themselves over for dinner), my squeamishness is a direct result of Peppermint Patty’s overbearing personality. Charlie is trying to rev himself up for a holiday at his grandmother’s, when suddenly Patty and the Gang inform him that they’re about to ascend his threshold for a full-on Thanksgiving meal, thank you very much.

We see Snoopy and Woodstock in the kitchen and Snoopy is making buttered toast and popcorn like a pro. One burned dog ear later, he’s got dinner on the (ping pong) table.

Sweet Snoopy happily serves up his homemade toast, pretzels, jelly beans, and popcorn. There are even pink parfaits on the table. A little carb-heavy, sure. But it’s the holiday season, after all. Their ten-year-old metabolisms can probably handle it.

©1973 United Feature Syndicate Inc.

©1973 United Feature Syndicate Inc.

But instead of feeling happy and grateful to be with friends (heck, let’s call a spade a spade–they’re acquaintances at best), Patty goes on a belittling rampage about the food, shredding any pride Charlie may have had in providing her with a meal. Linus’s gracious speech fell on deaf ears, apparently. Thankfully Patty had brought her subordinate BFF Marcie with her, who becomes the voice of reason, talks Patty down from her rage high, and gets her to apologize. That’s a solid friend right there.

The whole scene gives me disgusted knots in my stomach, quite frankly, to the point where between it and the not-so-great voice casting, I have a high aversion to the special, so much so that it wouldn’t bother me if that particular DVD of the Peanuts Holiday Collection somehow got lost.

In short, this storyline makes me want to reach for a glass of wine or a Valium. It does not embody thankfulness or the spirit of Thanksgiving. To me, the kids’ meal that Snoopy and Charlie and Linus prepared IS what the holiday is all about: gathering with your friends/loved ones and enjoying what you have before you.

Other than watching Snoopy’s antics with Woodstock, I think the best part of the special is when all the kids are singing Over the River and Through the Woods in their off-key and inharmonious way. Also because it’s at the end of this not-so-well-done program. I’m sorry, Chuck. I love ya, but they can’t all be winners.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope your feast is belittling-free and full of delicious eats, even and especially if they’re toast and popcorn.

Me Me Me: Observations on Facebook Brags

According to many a study out there, most everyone on Facebook is a narcissist of one form or another. And if you’re a frequent Twitter user, it’s probably worse.

I don’t happen to believe that narcissism through social media is linked merely to those two outlets. There are social networks out there I’ve never even heard of. But if you can have followers and if you have enough ego, you can certainly whip up an unhealthy dose of overinflated self-importance.

Ice cream flavor “Facebook”: the “taste of time-wasting narcissism.”

I happen to love social media. That’s probably not a shocking admission. I mean, I have a blog with my name in it. (Perhaps that’s the ultimate form of narcissism?)

But here’s where I want to focus on one specific aspect of social media narcissism, and those are the Facebook Brags. I’ve been watching a lot of The Newsroom lately, so if I come across as if I’m doing a monologue from an Aaron Sorkin production, that would be why.

The whole point of Facebook is to share one’s accomplishments, milestones, the occasional selfie, some vacation photos, a snarky observation or two, and even cute stuff.  And if you’re into debate, there are plenty of conversation-starting articles, too. It’s what makes Facebook go ’round. Facebook takes the narcissism to the next level by advertising every single change and/or update we make: Likes, comments, profile photos, cover photos, job description, etc, as if it’s all equally important; so to that extent, it’s not entirely our fault.

Where self-involvement becomes untenable is the constant (over)sharing of things a person is doing that are “above” his or her friends’ experiences. When your Facebook statuses are all brag and no substance, it makes other people you’re friends with (or “friends” with) want to click Hide.

Recent studies suggest that passive participation, as in, not actively participating, on Facebook makes a person more unhappy. Another blogger went into a lot of depth analyzing the different kinds of updates one can post and their underlying motivations, the main ones being narcissism, attention craving, jealousy inducing, and “image crafting.” Particularly on the subject of blatant brags, s/he writes:

Let’s give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you’re just excited and need to brag to someone. Even if that’s the case, the only people it’s okay to brag to in life are your close friends, significant other, and family members—and that’s what email, texting, phone calls, and live talking are for. Your moment of self-satisfaction is profoundly annoying to people you’re not that close with, and they make up the vast majority of people who will be subjected to the status.

I won’t lie–in the nine years since I have been on Facebook, spanning from my early twenties to my early thirties, I’m guilty of having penned most, if not all, of the types of status messages that Wait But Why writes about. Twenty-somethings are absolutely more self-involved than most other age groups. However, as I’ve gotten older, matured, and reigned in my baser impulses, I now much more carefully choose what I decide to put out there; so much so, that I have found myself all the more sensitive to brag after brag after brag, particularly if it comes from one person.

When I’ve realized someone is a Braggart 4 Life, each status message earns an eye-roll and some kind of thought along the lines of, “We get it, you’re fabulous and we should all be grateful to be associated with you,” and I categorize that person as shallow/superficial and on the outskirts of friendship. I’ve unfriended people for less reason than being a braggart, but I could see this type of behavior driving much of the unfriending happening around Facebook.

My point here is not to make anyone feel badly about using Facebook. I check it all throughout the day, even if I’m not posting anything, just to see what my peeps are up to.

The point is that braggy, douchey status updates, if someone just HAS to write one, MUST also be balanced out with other types of posts. It’s kind of like Newton’s third law of motion (for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction (ain’t that the truth)): for every hubris-soaked statement or photo you put out there, make the next two funny/snarky/sweet/banal. It’s that simple!

Otherwise, you’re going to find yourself without those who would share in your actual triumphs and joys. That’s a promise.

Breathes There the Man
Sir Walter Scott

Breathes there the man with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said,
“This is my own, my native land!”
Whose heart hath ne’er within him burn’d
As home his footsteps he hath turn’d
From wandering on a foreign strand?
If such there breathe, go, mark him well;
For him no Minstrel raptures swell;
High though his titles, proud his name,
Boundless his wealth as wish can claim;
Despite those titles, power, and pelf,
The wretch, concentred all in self,
Living, shall forfeit fair renown,
And, doubly dying, shall go down
To the vile dust from whence he sprung,
Unwept, unhonor’d, and unsung.

Heat Makes Me Crankypants

Um, yeah. Little fact about me. Having the Nordic genes that I do (despite being half Italian), I don’t “do well” in the sun and crazy heat.

It makes me irritable, tired, and not want to do anything. Including the acts of getting up, getting ready for work, schlepping to work, and then working all day.

An apt facial expression of mine that sums up how I feel about temps in the 90s with heat indeces in the 100s, which we’re experiencing this week here in the Plains State, is this:

Zoe Says ORLY

It’s not a current photo, so I’m putting that out there straight up. It’s probably about four years old. But it’s EXACTLY how I’m feeling this morning and every single day I have to wake up and endure being singed on my (delicate) skin by the intense rays of the sun.

This gal is READY for autumn.

Bring me chillier temps, where I can put on a fire, drink hot beverages, and start putting out my fall scented candles. BRING IT.

 

Trapped

Remember when I wrote not very long ago about fighting my urges to research new places to live for one reason or another?

It’s a peaceful, quiet Friday evening. While most people go out to do something social on a Friday night, I have always veered towards home after work or school. Perhaps in my younger years, I had a handful of evenings where I went out after work and added to the stimulation of a long week.

But ninety-nine times out of a hundred (nine times out of ten didn’t really seem to convey the proper percentage), I head to my home after forty-five hours of time spent in the office, longing for solitude, quiet, and relaxation.

I crave unwinding on my own couch with the knowledge that I don’t have to set the alarm for the next day. Out of everything I may do at home–hold a conversation, sit and stare out the window, get on my computer, stream something on Netflix, read a book–it’s the SILENCE I need the most. One of the big reasons we chose to live where we do is it is a lovely apartment community that supports quiet. Our apartment faces a pond (retention basin), with fish and geese and ducks and other flora and fauna. It is still.

Basin_Zoe Says

Feel the stillness?

My partying neighbors, whose energy for seamy nightlife activities knows no bounds, are the perfect Achilles heel to my introverted plans. I think they have some kind of radar that alerts them as to when I need to relax the most, unless their urges to party just neatly coincide with my desire to relax each weekend, which is likely the case.

Drinking and smoking don’t really make any noise, though. If all these people did was have a quiet cigarette or two with a brandy, we’d have no problems. Perhaps we’d even feel like giving them a friendly wave.

But no; what makes noise are drunken belligerent fools who listen to really terrible (bass-y) music every…single…weekend evening, preceding and during the imbibing of God only knows what substances, whilst also whooping. (How I Met Your Mother fans–I have a “woo” girl living right next door to me! Except she’s in her mid-thirties and it’s called “alcoholism!”)

What makes it worse is that the music is not only turned up to an unreasonable volume for living in a shared-walls community, but I have a sneaking suspicion that they have their stereo system set up near the back wall of their apartment, which contains the utility closet, which abuts our utility closet on the back wall of our apartment, and is not well insulated and thus emits noise quite well. The folding metal door on the utility closet doesn’t help.

Apartments

Based solely on my imagination, because it’s hard for me to fathom how loud they’d have to play the music if the stereo wasn’t right next to the shared wall.

At first I thought it was all the husband’s fault. He seemed like an easy target to blame. He chain smokes outside on the patio (our patios are adjacent to one another) and he’s a tight-lipped, unpleasant sort of fellow. Loves his cell phone and his minivan. (Red flag, anyone?)

Their habits have been pretty predictable up until lately. Usually it’s dead silent up until nine or ten o’clock at night and then…cue the stereo and some honky tonk or other terrible genre of songs. I did say it was bad, didn’t I?

The week before last, the wife was gone for an entire week. Not a single note emitted from their apartment from Monday to Friday. I wondered if God had granted me the gift of going deaf at will; perhaps someone had died; did they suddenly develop a collective conscience?

We got our answer when the wife returned home on Friday and the musical habits returned with her. I was seriously stunned. I had made a serious and sexist judgment call, believing that the surly husband and his musical whims were the bane of my existence, when the whole time it was the wife.

Perhaps you’re asking yourself if I have talked to them about the music. Yes. I confronted the banshee herself one early morning before work, when she was still bleary-eyed and hungover. She even told me they would try to “watch it” around ten o’clock with regard to the music, when the complex’s “quiet hours” start. That lasted about a week.

Perhaps you are wondering if we’ve had to call the police. Yep. Did it work? No. In fact, they rebelled by playing the music louder and screaming at us through the walls. Classy all the way.

Maybe you’re wondering if management has stepped in. Yes! They have been banned from renewing a lease and are on warning about their violations of Quiet Hours and the section of the lease regarding use of premises. We still have to live next to them until they leave, however.

As I mentioned in the other post, Mr. and Mrs. Shithead are moving between now and the end of July. Their actual move date is a mystery but we find ourselves praying we’ll come home to a moving truck every single day at this point. (We were given the false hope that they would “go out of town on weekends” until their lease was up. So far, it has yet to happen and I think that was just a whimsical lie Mrs. S. thought would sound good when talking to the manager.)

Here are the strategies we utilize while we wait for the hours and minutes on the clock to painstakingly pass until our fun-loving partiers alcoholics vacate the premises:

  • Retire upstairs in the nine o’clock hour every night (unless by some miracle the music isn’t on.)
  • Turn the Blizzard fan in our room to high, drowning out most of the noise that inevitably emanates from downstairs.
  • Put on noise-canceling headphones when doing anything quiet, like reading, checking email, or attempting to fall asleep.
  • Sit in the upstairs computer room, which is unattached to any part of their apartment, with the door shut and quiet music on, and blog to get my mind off the anxiety that wells up inside of me every second of every minute that they play their vile cacophony downstairs, and wait for them to pass out.
  • Put on headphones and listen to guided meditation; take deep breaths.
  • All of the above.

I guess you figured out which one I’m doing now. The problem tonight is, they opted for Music Hour(s) far earlier than usual. We hadn’t even figured out our dinner plans yet. What all of those options above have in common is that they all involve our being trapped in our own apartment – the place that is supposed to be our (QUIET) sanctuary.

I wouldn’t allow myself to even look at my comfy couch–I just made a beeline for the upstairs. While my dude decided on an evening nap (with fan on!), I chose to hole up in the computer room, staring out at the peaceful scene beyond my windows, making me envious with the knowledge that it would be quieter if I camped out in a tent with the geese and insects around me than if I slept in my own comfortable bed with two human beings one wall away.

And with that….

It’s time for a late supper. It means I have to brave going downstairs and leave my safe little space in front of the computer.

Here goes nothing.

Heat Reminders and Also, What’s That Smell?

Amidst the elephant stampede that is my work life for the time being, I had a momentary realization and went to go check when the summer solstice was happening. Sure enough, it was yesterday.

Thank you, Google, for spelling it out.

What? Is it humid?

What prompted me to check, if I’m being honest, is that it’s been balls hot this week. I think I’ve alluded to the fact that I’m not a hot weather person. The recent ninety-degree temperatures and my hair’s response to the 400% humidity, not unlike Monica in Barbados, made me wonder if it was the official start of summer just yet. Sure enough, it arrived a day early.

I have such a love/hate relationship with summer. On the one hand, I complain that it’s too long and it’s too damn hot. On the other, it goes by SO fast, as it commences unofficially with Memorial Day, followed closely behind by Independence Day, and rounds off with Labor Day. Before we know it, bam! It’s September and it’s Cinnamon/Apple/Pumpkin season, also known as cinnappkin season, and I’m wondering how long it will be before Christmas everything is in my face.

But back to summer.

Before I get to enjoy delicious cinnapkin treats, I must endure three months of doing everything I can to stay reasonably cool, usually failing miserably (short of being cooped up in an air-conditioned office all day, which then makes me happy to be at work, and then I get all workaholicky).

Heat emanating in waves from concrete or asphalt is one of the worst feelings in the world. In addition to the sun already frying my pale skin, it feels like death can’t be far away as long as I am being cloaked in an armpit of reflected heat from the surface on which I’m walking. (How could I ever wonder whether I was destined to move away from New York City?)

Secondly and perhaps more importantly, summer brings certain odeurs with it that other seasons do not. Namely, the smell of putrid rotting garbage. In the heat, every smell is magnified to an intense degree which is difficult to endure. Being a person who can sniff out the slightest of scents hours after they’ve occurred in an enclosed space, whenever I’m hit in the face with the smell of rotting garbage or sizzling dog poop because it’s a hundred degrees out, I gag and fiercely wish for the swift death of this particular season.

There are the nice parts to summer, too, but they are as fleeting for me as seeing a shooting star. It’s rare I get to go on any kind of “summer vacation” at this point in my life, so enjoying a beautiful place with a beach or mountains or doing anything else fun where I could actually enjoy being out of doors is pretty much out of my grasp. Plus, even when I do get to be outside for any length of time when the sun is at its strongest, I’m obsessing about my skin’s exposure to the strong summer sun. And then I get hot, tired, and thirsty really easily. And then I whine.

Summer = whining, can’t you tell?

While I am grateful this other issue I’m about to mention isn’t as literally in my face as when I lived in the Big Apple, summer also brings with it extra strength B.O. Being a defensive pedestrian (as opposed to being a defensive driver, I guess?) means holding my breath a lot more, especially when walking past certain people (I make snap smell judgments) or if a jogger/biker/greasy-looking-person happens to whizz by me. Or takes a wiz BY me.

Okay, probably time for me to find another positive aspect to summer.

I DO enjoy the extra hours of daylight. It’s nice to get ready for work in the morning, especially now that I’m an early-morning-schedule person, with the sun shining in and seven a.m. doesn’t feel like three a.m. Same goes for coming home from work and having the lingering light go into the eight o’clock hour.

And, if the air is feeling soupy at night and I can’t sleep because I’m feeling too warm, I remind myself that I pay my own electric bill and can choose to go up to my thermostat and crank down the temperature to 65 degrees if I damn well please. So there is that – summertime reminds me I’m not subjected to the thermostat whims of my parents any longer. Win!

But really, for the most part, I’m gritting my teeth and waiting for the sweet release of autumn. And cinnappkin everything.

Blerg. Three months to go.

Amalgam Day

Hello fair readers!

For the post du jour, I’m whining writing about a couple of things that have been in the hopper for a little while but needed proper motivation to be written.

Today is that day. Hooray!

Before we get to it, an amalgam is “a mixture of different elements,” the second definition of this word according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

First things first. I have decided that instead of “Hump Day,” Wednesday should be called “Slump Day.” I mentioned this to a friend of mine this morning because I feel very strongly against using the word “hump” – gross. And also it really does feel like a slump. Is anyone really motivated on Wednesday? Anyone? I’m waiting. Or we could just call it Amalgam Day, but that wouldn’t always apply.

Next on the list:

So apparently I’m a masochist. It takes me forever to realize that something is going to suck no matter how much I want it to not suck.

<Dramatic Deep Sigh>

Today turned out to be incredibly chilly, rainy, and windy, so I decided to get myself a hot meal at lunchtime. Since I didn’t have time to go out for a real sit-down meal, I ventured to go for McDonald’s, the only fast food place close by to my office. I know, you’re probably thinking, “There’s your first mistake.” I hadn’t been to Mickey D’s in a couple of weeks and so I was ready for it to reward me for my abstinence.

I also thought that perhaps they’d be having a Good Fry Day and I would be able to benefit from it. We all know what Good Fry Days are at McDonald’s – you get your bag and these perfectly cooked golden sticks with just the right amount of salt on them await you to consume them. They become the cornerstone of the meal, though Chicken McNuggets or a Big Mac aren’t too far behind. For the record, it was NOT a good fry day. I got hot fries but they were overcooked and had a puke yellow color to them, so they were not all that appetizing.

In any case, I decided that on top of getting a regular lunch meal, I’d opt to try a hot coffee drink, since they have already begun putting their holiday beverage advertisements out at the drive-thru. (I guess it worked….)

There’s no way in hell I would try anything with “peppermint” in it from McDonald’s, so that nixed the “Peppermint Hot Chocolate” and I didn’t want a regular latte, not that I trust them to make a great one. My go-to coffee drink is a mocha when I’m feeling splurge-y, so that’s what I decided on.

I know, we’ve been here before, right? Also here. I keep signing up for the pyramid schemes and believing I’m going to make my money back.

Needless to say, it did not live up to the expectations my little heart had set.

Pros: the ‘mocha’ was hot; it had whipped cream and a drizzle of chocolate syrup on top
Cons: it was mostly just espresso with not enough milk in it and was entirely too bitter; the best part of consuming this ‘mocha’ was at the end when I got the extra bit of syrup and whipped cream mixed in with the last of the drink. I should have just gotten a regular cup of coffee.

Basically, I’m living out the cliché definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. The hope here is that having written about these disastrous drinks on a couple of different occasions, I’ll actually like, REMEMBER that the next time I think I am going to manifest that perfect coffee drink I’m craving and I find myself at McDonald’s.

I have yet to hear from anyone that these things are actually satisfying, unless you’re addicted to super sugary stuff and go for the drinks that are all syrup with a drop of espresso in them.

All of this leads me to my final point, and one I didn’t think I’d ever say:

Dear Starbucks, PLEASE SET UP A NEW LOCATION IN MY CITY! Urbana has the Starbuckses because the University of Illinois is there. We Champaigners don’t have one, unless you count going up to the mall area, which I don’t. You know what we get instead? A plethora of Espresso Royales.

Don't be fooled. It's horrible.

Espresso Royale is even worse than McDonald’s AND they charge you up the ass for their beverages and baked goods. I can’t say enough bad things about that place, and after trying them at least five times before giving up (are we seeing a pattern here?), I can say with confidence they don’t know how to make coffee OR hot chocolate.

I NEED a Starbuck’s. They may be all corporate and “everything that’s wrong with America,” but I am desperate. They know how to make a freaking mocha without screwing it up and know a little something about the art of coffee, even if they’re not everyone’s ideal. Plus, they make a damn fine pumpkin spice latte.

I don’t even need a giant Starbucks with a drive-thru. I just want a little shop set up within a mile of of where I work in the southwest corner of Champaign. Is that really too much to ask? Please, Starbucks, come and put Espresso Royale out of business!! It’s a travesty that that place is even staying afloat because they’re doing everything they can to keep people out, trust me.

I actually really like my newly adopted city but if I were appointed City Planner or whoever makes these kinds of decisions, I’d ban Espresso Royale and start getting some much needed coffee shops in the coffee-less areas for the suburbanites. It’s time to get the good coffee drinks to us coffee snobs in the farther out regions. (Some of us ninety-nine percenters have spending priorities such as I do – it’s all we’ve got! Did I say the word ‘coffee’ enough in this paragraph?)

To sum up: McDonald’s keeps on disappointing and it’s annoying; Starbucks is neglecting a very important area of the country and needs only to send me an email if they want to know where to set up their next location.

Happy Slump Day.