Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Dave100... #89. Jerry Maguire


Jerry Maguire, 1996, Rated R. Stars a pre-Scientology-crazy Tom Cruise, Renee Zellweger in her breakout role, Cuba Gooding Jr before he started mailing in all his roles, Mrs. John Travolta, and the underappreciated Bonnie Hunt.

Plot... Jerry Maguire works for a sports agency, gets a conscience, and decides to write a memo addressing the dishonesty in the business. Though lauded, he's fired, with the firing carried out by former protege-turned-rival Bob Sugar. Racing back to the office, Jerry has decided to branch out on his own, and gets stuck on a lengthy conversation with Rod Tidwell, lengthy enough that Bob Sugar is able to grab all of Jerry's clients while Jerry is left only with Rod.

As he leaves, he asks who is daring enough to come with him, and only Dorothy Boyd stands up. While Jerry and Rod have a rocky relationship, as Rod proves hard to please, he and Dorothy eventually get close enough to fall for each other, though Jerry is more enamored with Dorothy's son, Ray.


Anyway, along the way you hear stuff like "Show me the money!", "I love black people!", "Quan" and of course, the final scene, which brings us, "You had me at hello". And the award winning actor Jonathan Lipnicki, who plays Ray, says, "Bees and dogs smell fear."

Why Its In the Dave100... I mean, I don't know. Should it be? Is it a sports movie? It can be. Is its a chick flick? It qualifies. I just genuinely love this movie. The performances are great all around, even Jerry O'Connell turns up pretty good as Brian "Cush" Cushman, a hot draft prospect that Jerry Maguire is trying to woo. Its just such a fun film, even though its been ruined by the repeated overkill of the now-famous catch phrases. Oh, and beware of "that scene" between Tom Cruise and Kelly Preston. You know it.

Tom Cruise had a string of hits back in the day, back when he made sense, wasn't hopping off couches and wasn't leaving the incomparable Nicole Kidman for the likes of butt-ugly Penelope Cruz. And Renee in this flick is just so darn cute. Seriously. It was also a good time for Cuba Gooding Jr (who won an Oscar for this film, and had a hilarious acceptance speech), before he started make crap, more crap, and even more crap (this link takes you to a film that landed on the Bottom 100 movies of all time on IMDB). And of course, I love Bonnie Hunt.

Oh, and Bruce Springsteen's song, "Secret Garden", is immaculate.

"Secret Garden" by Bruce Springsteen, intersparsed with some Jerry Maguire. See the video here too. This song was my Amy Wible song for a long time... until, of course, The Lovely Steph Leann came around.

Random Trivia... saw this movie on Christmas Day in 1996 with Heather Howell. Also, did you know that Tom Hanks was offered the lead role, and turned it down? John Travolta was also pursued, but really, this is one of those type flicks that was cast perfectly.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Dave Tells You How To Do Disney

About a week ago, Jill Johnson called me, leaving me a voice mail to the effect of, "Hey, I know you and The Lovely Steph Leann are big Disney fans! My sister and her family are going for the first time, and I wanted some Disney tips from you... you know, where to eat, the pin trading stuff, what there is to do for kids, etc. Call me."

A week later, I sat down via email to answer, and realized the request of "Give me Disney tips" without knowing specifics--how old are the kids? have they already booked the trip? how many people are going? how long will they be there?--is a broad, vague question. And it required a broad, long answer.

And I liked it so much, I decided to post it... so here's a quick (I say quick, even though its about 65,000 words) overview of random and various things you need to know. You can email this to your friends if they are going to Disney, or just read for yourself, and comment on some tips that maybe I forgot to add!

Walt Disney World truly is the most magical place on Earth. I mean, yes, you can get more coasters at Six Flags or Universal, and maybe Atlanta is closer, but nothing is like Disney World. Its the whole environment, the meticulous attention to detail, the love and warmth of kids and families and adults alike... its a place you can have fun when you are 5, or you are 35 with a 5 year-old, or 33 and 32, like we'll be when we go in September, with no kids.

But if you've never been, or never been properly, there are some things you just have to know... dinner plans? Characters? Character meals? Fast passes? What about where to stay? You ready? Here we go. Take notes.

Invest in the Disney Dining Plan
If you are going more than just a day or two, this will save you a ton of money and hassle. How it works is, you are allotted a certain number of meals per day per person. Now the temptation is to get the plan with three full meals per day, but do not do this. We have found that three full meals is not only expensive, but it wears on you as you run and gun through 4 million miles of parks per day.

What we have done in the past is get the dining plan that allows for one table service (like a sit-down, nicer restaurant) per day, one counter service (like a walk-up, burger, hotdog, etc) kind of place and one snack (which can include a bottle water, or ice cream, or pop corn). We would have maybe a counter service in the morning, go to the parks, have a snack sometime during the day (keeping ourselves hydrated) and then have a great dinner somewhere... or we would have a sit-down breakfast, like a character breakfast, do the lunch snack, and then grab pizza or a burger for dinner. Either way.

Character Dinners
These are just awesome. Pick them carefully, though. I think that everyone should go to the Princess Breakfast in the Cinderella's Castle. Its a tasty breakfast, and all the princesses come out one at a time--Mary Poppins, Belle, Aurora, Snow White, Jasmine, others--and go table by table, taking pictures and such. Granted, sometimes you get princesses that just aren't very good looking, but still, it's just a magical way to start your day. Whats good is that most character meals use the Disney Dining Plan... though sometimes, they require "2 Meals", like this one does. No matter, though... at the end of our week last year, we still had three snacks and two counter services left, because we planned carefully.

I'm in one of the shops on Main Street, when I get this call from The Lovely Steph Leann, frantically telling me to come outside to Town Hall. Hurry! Hurry! When I ask her why, she almost yells into the phone, "Because Jiminy Cricket is out here, and I'VE NEVER SEEN HIM!!!"

Another one we loved was the Supercalifragilistic Breakfast, held at the 1900 Park Fare Restaurant in the Grand Floridian Hotel. Mary Poppins, Alice, The Mad Hatter, Tigger and Pooh came around at that one. A great dinner idea is the Cinderella Storybook Dinner, also held in The Grand Floridian Hotel, at 1900 Park Fare Restaurant, featuring the cast of Cinderella, an incredible buffet and some great strawberry soup. Yes, strawberry soup. Its incredible.

This would be the chilled strawberry soup at 1900 Park Fare that The Lovely Steph Leann raves about. Notice the other great looking junk on her plate around it.

Our favorite restaurant is Le Cellier in EPCOT, located in Canada. Its can be a little pricey, but its also accepted with the Disney Dining Plan. Be proactive though. These things fill up quickly. As a matter of fact, some of them start booking reservations as much as 180 days out--six months. The Lovely Steph Leann and I are going at the end of September, and the Princess breakfast, Le Cellier and the Storybook Dinner are all booked up, every day of our trip.

Character Sightings
Much of it is just waiting, and watching. Now, in EPCOT, they've got the Character Spot where you'll find Mickey, Minnie, Pluto and Donald usually, and sometimes Chip & Dale, and in Toontown, in the Magic Kingdom, they've also got a Character Barn. Remember, many times this is standing in line, so be wary of the children--we were in line at EPCOT for almost an hour for Mickey, because he's the Big Cheese, but we didn't mind it. Three year olds might mind it alot.

We randomly found Piglet in EPCOT's England. Pooh and Tigger had just left, but The Lovely Steph Leann loves her some Piglet, so this was a great moment.

You can always ask your local cast member where the characters will be, because at different times of the day, a certain group of characters may be scheduled to be in different areas. You'll likely find characters with their rides, like we found Aladdin and Jasmine at the Magic Carpet ride, we found Pooh and Piglet in the England area of EPCOT, we found Buzz Lightyear by the Tomorrowland rides... Hollywood Studios also has a special place for Lightnin McQueen, Mater, Sully & Mike, Woody & Buzz and a few others.

Its always great when the characters really, really give you alot. We had a great time with Genie, and The Mad Hatter was awesome. Peter Pan was as fruity as a four dollar bill, but still, he was perfect into character.

With the Cars, if you know they are coming, get in line. Even if you have to wait an hour, get in line. Make sure you know where the line starts, and make sure you are following cast member orders. We missed the Cars in the morning (at Hollywood Studios) but were told they'd be reappearing at 3 that afternoon. At 2pm, we got in line, where we were fifth or sixth. By 230, the line was already closed, and people were mad--but they didn't get there in time. And when Lightnin McQueen and Mater came 'round the corner, we were giddy. It was worth the wait.

Autographs are big for the kids, and even some adults. Almost all characters will do either autographs or at least ink stamps onto a page. Some characters, like King Louie, who just has dangling arms (and no control in the costume) couldn't do it, but most can.

Pin Trading
Ah, the pins. First and foremost, understand, this can be a very, very expensive hobby. Depending on when you are going, you might want to look on eBay for a $50 lot of 25 or 30 pins to trade. Here's how it works... cast members have either blue or green lanyards around their neck, or they might have a blue or green cloth patch on their belt. If you have a pin you'd like to trade, simply walk up to the cast member, ask to look at their pins, and you can trade pin for pin.
Etiquette dictates that you pull yours off, put the rubber back back on, hand it to the CM, and they'll reciprocate. They cannot accept a pin, however, if they already have it on their lanyard (this is important, and I'll come back to this).

The blue lanyards can trade with anyone, adult or child, The green are only supposed to be for kids, but some will take a "all of us are kids at heart" approach, and trade with adults. Some, however, are stickler for the rules. And guests can trade with other guests--I traded several times with kids that came up to look at my pins. Usually, it was a pin I didn't care about much, and would trade just to make the kid feel happy--I always said, "Now, make sure its okay with mom and dad first."

This is right outside of The Teacups. A little girl had approached me about pins, and I think I traded her one, but I don't remember. Its important to be good to the kids, yet make sure they don't take you for a ride and manipulate you for your good pins.

They do sell pin "sets" in the Disney stores there. Usually, a 4-pin set will run around $20, and an 8-pin set can run from 30 to 40. These are good ways to start, because you guy multiple pins at a time and trade them off one by one... however, many, many people do this, so if you've got a Halloween Pooh out of the set, and you want to trade it, you might find that same Halloween Pooh on a ton of cast member lanyards, and you wont be able to trade it.

Many pins have "hidden mickeys" in them, which are little tiny mickey ears on the pins somewhere, and these are usually pins that you cannot buy, but are given to the cast members just for trading. Its always good to pick a theme, like "Monorail Pins" or "Beauty & the Beast Pins" or what The Lovely Steph Leann collected, "Disney Topiary Pins", and I got all the "Disney Dollar Pins". Or, you can just find characters you like and go for them.

A gander at our pin board. We have more than this now, as we've added several since I went to work for The Happiest Place in the Mall.

Are you staying on the resort? I hope so. If so, then take the bus and trams everywhere. Its so much easier. Yes, it might take a little more time, but its so much easier than parking and walking and blah blah blah. Also, if you stay on the resort, you are eligible for Magic Hours. Sometimes the parks open earlier, or stay open later only for those who are staying in one of the resorts.

Also, the All Star Value Resorts--All Star Sports, Movies, Pop Century & Music--work just fine for us. Yes, other, more expensive hotels are nicer, but we came to Orlando to spend time in the parks--the rooms are for sleeping and showering. So give me a $80 per night room at the All Star Movies, and keep your $250 per night Polynesian... it would be nice, one day, but today we're on a budget.

all star resorts
This is the All Star Movies Resort, where we stayed. Look in the distance, the building with the stars on it is the main court. Sometimes you stay farther back than what where we were standing.

When you book, though, you can ask for "Preferred Rooms", which are about 10 bucks more per night, but it puts you right up close to the food court. Otherwise, you might have to walk the length of a building or two to get to the food court, which leads to the bus stop.

Fast Passes
This is essential, so listen up. There are certain rides in the parks that basically sell out. In EPCOT, its Test Track and Soarin. In Magic Kingdom, its Space/Splash/Thunder Mountain, and for some ungodly reason, Peter Pan's Flight. In Hollywood Studios, its Tower of Terror and Rock n Roller Coaster. In Animal Kingdom, its Everest. Fast Passes are the answer to your prayers. Basically, its a pass that lets you come back at a later time. The trick is, you run into the park, get the fast pass for one, then go straight to the other.

At EPCOT this is crucial. Test Track is one of the most popular rides in all of Disney, so we raced to get Fast Passes for Soarin (another brilliant ride that YOU CANNOT MISS), then went to Test Track. The park opened at 9, we raced in, and by the time we were able to get fast passes for Soarin, the passes were for 1140am. They increase by 10 minute increments. We raced over to Test Track, got in line, and waited about 40 minutes. By the time we were out, Soarin fast passes were beyond 8pm that night, and within an hour, Test Track fast passes were gone for the whole day. And this is by 1030am.

Also, if it says "Return between 310 and 410p" then you cant go on until 310... but if you come after 410, its okay, they'll let you in. We learned this the hard way, as we ran across The World Showcase in EPCOT to the front of the park to Soarin in 20 minutes... The Lovely Steph Leann's feet hurt so bad.

Fast Passes can only be gotten one at a time--you get them by inserting your "Key to the World", or your park ticket card. Sometimes you can get passes for two rides, but many times that doesn't happen, so don't count on it. I've never gotten three rides on fast pass before the first ride time came up.

Soarin is a newer ride at EPCOT and is wonderful--make sure you do all you can to get on the front row. Toy Story Mania is brand spankin' new as well, and will be mobbed by people, so get the fast pass for that one too. Shows like Muppets in 3-D (Hollywood Studios), Its Great to Be a Bug (Animal Kingdom), Monsters Inc Laugh Floor (Magic Kingdom), The Energy Show (EPCOT) and PhilarMagic (Magic Kingdom) are audience type shows, and while it might take a few minutes to get in, they fit hundreds of people in at a time.

Peter Pan's Flight fills up like crazy, for some reason, so if the kids want that one, get it early, after Space Mountain. Exciting rides like Space Mountain, Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain, Rock n Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror--they fill up fast.

Closing Thoughts
You walk into The Magic Kingdom with a handful of kids and a "oh, we'll just go wherever" attitude, and your day is shot already. Now, this doesn't mean you should have a schedule on paper, never vary from it, and get angry when people do, but you do need to plan your "attack" when it comes to fast passes and your route. Do not expect to cover Magic Kingdom as a whole in one day, especially with a bunch of kids. If you've only got two or tree days, you need to decide what area of the park you will leave off, or what rides you will leave off BEFORE you go in the gate.

Look at the maps, have a decent route, and remember what times parades start. If you love parades, find a good spot early (the maps will tell you the routes). If you could care less about parades, its a great time to go ride some rides, because many people are watching the parade.

One More Note
We were standing in line to meet one of the characters, and we got into a conversation with this mother who had just brought their 3 year old to Disney for the first time. She got a once-in-a-lifetime snapshot of her daughter's expression the first time she saw the castle, which I'm sure was priceless and precious. Only problem was, she didn't have it, nor the camera. Seems she had lost the camera on Peter Pan's Flight, and three days worth of irreplaceable moments were gone.
Lesson is, if you bring a laptop or a storage device, unload your pics every day. She was so upset, she was even saying, "It's a $600 camera, but I don't care. I would take them turning in the memory card, and keeping the camera."

Now you know. And knowing is half the magic.

Monday, July 07, 2008

The Clouds are Singing

In case you've noticed, or haven't, there are a few new things added to the Clouds in My Coffee Blog... my ultimate goal is to make my site your one-stop shop for news links, weather links, sports links and other fun stuff to read, but that's farther down the road... we'll get there.

Added a new blog column to My Recommended Blogs list. Heather "The Angel" Hanson (now Conkle... and The Lovely Steph Leann thought she had it bad going from Campbell to Dollar...) writes a blog--I managed to find Heather via Facebook. In fact, Heather plays a role in the most embarrassing and at the same time most hilarious moment of my Troy life involving boxer shorts, but that's for another day. Her blog is entitled "Tell Me the Old, Old Story", and you can find it here... or on the links on the side. Show HH some love.

I've added a couple of widgets to the side--a "widget" is a little block of links an info--that you might find fun... one is Birmingham's weather, another in the sports section is the ESPN widget, for sports. Near the bottom, under my facebook widget, is The Sports Guy, who is one of my favorite columnists. Not too far under that is an iTunes widget, followed by a Pop Candy link to USA Today's Pop Culture columnist, Whitney Matheson.

And thanks to Heather "The Angel" Hanson, there's now music playing on the Clouds In My Coffee Blog.

You may be enjoying it, or you might have immediately gone to find it and shut if off. Right now I've got it autostarting, and randomly playing the list... if you are like me, when you visit a blog page, you are usually not there long enough to get through more than one or two songs, much less an entire playlist. With that in mind, I wanted to make sure the songs on the bottom got some love too, not just the ones near the top.

The fun part of doing any kind of playlist like this is... what do I put on here? You can put up to 100 songs on the list, via the site I But really, I don't know that I want a playlist of 100 songs on any site, and definately not mine.

So I chose music that I really enjoyed, music that perhaps wouldn't rank in my top ten, but nonetheless that I loved, that I knew, and styles that I felt would represent who I am. Much of it is from the 90s, during music was at its peak, but there is some earlier and some later stuff.

This might be the closest I've done to an iTunes Celebrity Playlist... Here's what I chose, let me know what you think...

"Little Green Bag" by The George Baker Selection. Featured prominently in "Reservoir Dogs" during the brilliant opening sequence, its fun, its catchy, and its a great way to kick off the Clouds In My Coffee music list.

"You're So Vain" by Carly Simon. How could a blog entitled "Clouds In My Coffee" not feature the song that the words came from. This song is truly amazing, a song of anger, yet sadness. And Carly has never been better.

"Possession" by Sarah McLachlan. My. Favorite. Song. Ever.

"100 Years" by Five for Fighting. The more I hear this song, the more I like it. The opening is just hypnotic, and the lyrics just make you think about your life. Maybe thats a good thing, maybe not, but it only takes 100 years to live.

"Running from an Angel" by Hootie & the Blowfish. Make fun of it if you want, but if you were in high school or college from 1993 to 1996, Hootie was one of the biggest bands around. This is my favorite song off of one of my favorite albums ever, "Cracked Rear View"

"Time After Time" by Nichole Nordeman. The Cyndi Lauper version is really good. There's another out there now with both Lauper and Sarah McLachlan... but this one, this version off of Nichole's live concert CD is a masterpiece. Seriously, I almost cried when I heard it for the first time.

"I'd Die Without You" by PM Dawn. This was my favorite song ever, until earlier this year, when "Possession" finally took it over and ended its 15 year reign at the top. So it resides at a very close #2.

"Callin' Baton Rouge" by Garth Brooks. Garth is just awesome, and this is my favorite country song ever. This is perfect to be sung loudly while traveling 78 on I-65 heading to Montgomery. Or wherever.

"Full Moon" by Brandy. Being born a poor black child, I'm a fan of R&B, and it doesn't get any more R&B'ier than this joint from Brandy. Dis juke is my jam, boo.

"The Remedy" by Jason Mraz. As much fun as this is to sing, its more fun when you can nail all the lyrics. That slammin' part in the second verse? Uncovering the ways to plan the next big attack they were counting down the ways to stab the brother in the be right back after this, the unavoidable kiss, where the minty fresh death breath is sure to outlast this catastrophe, dance with me, because if you've got the poison, I've got the remedy

"Love Will Never Do Without You" by Janet Jackson. Its hard not preceeding this song with "Miss You Much" because on Janet's "Rhythm Nation 1814", another one of my favorite albums, they go right together. But, in an effort to not feature two songs by the same artist, I picked this one. Mostly because... well, it makes me happy. We all have songs that just make us happy, for no reason other than it does. This is one of those.

"Stay" by Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories. This is the most. fun. song. to. sing. ever. Seriously, this is the song that, when you walk into a room and start it, someone in that room will join you, if not multiple someones. "You say... I only hear what I want to, I don't listen hard, I don't pay attention to the distance that you're running to anyone, anywhere, I don't really care, I'm only hearing negative no no no baaaaaadddd...." NYCJenny is rolling with this song right now.

"Come and Talk To Me" by Jodeci. If I were a pimp, this might be a theme song for one of my ho's. Just sayin'.

"In the Light" by dcTalk. This is one of five songs that define my life as a Christ-Follower. Powerful and convicting, I dare you to find harmony as good as this.

"My Favorite Mistake" by Sheryl Crow. Off another one of my favorite all time albums, "The Globe Sessions". We all have our favorite mistakes, don't we?

So there it is. How'd I do?

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Taking the Mouse, Leaving the Bean Place

So... I'm a full time member of the Walt Disney World Company. The House of Mouse. By last Saturday night, maybe before Mikey's 30th birthday extravanganza, maybe after, I'm not sure, but sometime in there, I decided that I wanted to be a part of The Disney Store and the Disney Company. I'm sure its in no small part due to the little plastic card I get that allows me and The Lovely Steph Leann (and two of our closest friends) access to the World anytime. Alissa and Joey, you are on our list for next spring, after the wedding.

By Sunday, I was at peace with it. There's some turnover issues at The Disney Store, and I get the sense there's a morale or unstability issue. There was at Cahaba Heights when I went there in March of 2007... let's just say leadership there was... off. And if you are the leadership I speak of at that time, and you reading this, going nuts on me for cleaning the desk is not the way to get a favorable response on The Clouds in My Coffee Blog, read by dozens of people across this great land of ours.

Anyway, I like to think that in six months, I had helped put that team together--that team that included Peter, Chris, Katie, Greer, Tracy, Kelly, Buttahs and more--and that team rocked. I have a knack for hiring, somehow.

The fact that I'm going to get to help do the same thing at The Happiest Place in the Mall... well, thats a challenge I look forward to facing. Then a series of events happened this week, one after the other, that made me go, "Well, hey now... God might just have an idea what up it is after all..."

Monday... called The Happiest Place in the Mall, and confirmed that yes, I would be accepting the position. I now planned to be the assistant manager for the store. I had also referred My Friend Stephanie, a different Stephanie from The Lovely Steph Leann, mind you, to go apply for a job there. She applied at Target, and apparently, they have no idea whats going on... they hired her, and yet never called her, never scheduled her and told her nothing.

Tuesday... I had the evening off, and was set to put together some furniture bought at IKEA, with the help of Croyle. I was at Hallmark, shopping for a birthday card for Britlicious, the wife of said Croyle, when I get a call from another Starbucks manager. "Did you hear about the conference call?" Um... no. What conference call? "The one starting at 530..." We had one today at 3p, there is another one? "Yeah, this is being held by Special K, about store closings." (Now, she didn't say Special K, but thats what I like to call him. He's the regional director for Alabama, Mississippi and some of Georgia's Starbucks. Brilliant guy) Well, what time is it now? "Um... 512." Well, crap.

So I rush home to The Cabana, grab my phone, dial in, and hear the announcement that is currently all over the news and internet. Starbucks had already announced it would close 100 licensed stores--those are the stores that "Proudly Brew Starbucks Coffee" in Targets, Barnes & Nobles, airports, hospitals, etc--and just this instant, they were announcing the closings of 500 more stores--600 in all. Averaging 20 partners per store, there would be 12,000 positions eliminated, 12,000 partners that would either be transferred, displaced or leave the company.

Wednesday... I start answering questions to our team about the closings. "Are we on the list?" is the first question I get from everyone. The first 50 stores in the country would be closing by the end of July, but I hadn't gotten a call from our district manager to tell me our store would be one of them, so at least for now, we're safe. As a manager, I've got to do damage control, however, and make our partners and customers feel at ease. I leaned on Matt, one of our stars at the store, who I'd met with the previous night.

Thursday... My boss comes in at 9 to meet with me. Drops the news, news that didn't surprise me in the least, yet saddened me to a deep end. Our store, located at University and 20th Street, would be closing. Not now, not at the end of July, but sometime in the next 9 months. And with it, about 15 partners would be transferred to other stores, some of which will hopefully go on to be assistant managers, some of which will leave altogether. The sad part comes in when you know that many of these people have been together for a year or two, and its like a family split up. Like a foster home shutting down, sending its kids all over the place.

Bottom line is, Starbucks Coffee & Tea is fine, and will be fine. In 1999, Just For Feet was atop the world. They had just had one of the most buzzed about Super Bowl commercials in memory, and were opening franchises everywhere. Within 2 years, they collapsed amidst fraud and overexpansion. Krispy Kreme was also a media darling for a few years, but rapid expansion led to their stock price plummeting, and many franchises in the western states filed bankruptcy.

The closing of our store, plus three more stores in the city is a wise business decision. Starbucks voluntarily does it now, so they aren't forced to do it later. If I was at Cahaba Heights still, or Hwy 280, the University and 20th Store would be just another store I barely know, and I would just shrug, shake my head and say, "Too bad. But its the right choice." However comma I'm the manager of this particular Starbucks, and whether they like it or not, these are my partners, so instead I say, "This sucks. This really, really sucks. But its the right choice."

Just so you know, when you read the headlines that say, "Local Shops Run Big Coffee Giant Out", don't believe it, because crap isn't reliable. Lucy's Coffee and Tea, right around the corner from us, didn't run us out of business. O'Henry's, located in Homewood, didn't run the Soho store out of Soho. It was Starbucks stepping back, viewing their options and realizing that we have two stores that aren't quite pulling their weight, and don't seem as if they will be able to in the near future, regardless of team, manager, product or whatever. Be it a victim of circumstance, location or the terrible economy that we actually don't have, but the liberal media insists we do, there are some locations that just don't make sense. And Starbucks sees this.

Friday... I've submitted my resignation at Starbucks, stepping down as manager. I'll be taking on part time work as just a barista for a while at another Starbucks. No schedules, no deployment, no target reports, nothing to do but make lattes and talk to people, what I love to do the most.

I went by The Happiest Place in the Mall. The Lovely Steph Leann has already informed me that My Friend Stephanie has already been hired by the store, which I'm excited about. In the same manner it was great to have Lil Sister Ashley, a close BFF, working with me at University and 20th, it will be great to have a familiar, friendly face at The Happiest Place in the Mall.

Anyway, I gave my starting date as July 28th, even though I'll be picking up some shifts all along here and there, just to get acquainted with the store. I'm nervous about the new start, naturally, because who knows how they'll receive me? Even The Lovely Steph Leann admits sometimes that upon first impression, I can come off as kind of a flake. But thats okay. I'm there to see Mickey, help make Magical Moments and basically be happy... which I can do fairly well.

I came up with a list, my favorite eleven people to work with at Starbucks, spanning three stores--Vestavia, Hwy 280 and Cahaba Heights... I left off University and 20th just because if Jess or Carla or whoever reads this blog, how do I look at one and tell them they didn't make it? My list, in no particular order... Susie Franks/Weetman (Vestavia), Luna (Vestavia), Hannah (Vestavia), Megan (Vestavia) Joey Towey (Vestavia), Nall Wall (280), Rocky (280) Tiffany Alexander (Cahaba), Kelly (280 & Cahaba), Amanda (280 & Cahaba) and Schottsy (Cahaba). I'm sure another name will come up later that I'll wish I had added... Kat, maybe, or Karen, or Theresa, who knows.

Well, there's your answer. I made the decision to step away. Four days later, I find out my store will close. I would have been fine as a manager, I would have just been moved... but to who knows where, and who knows how long I might have had to share a store. Remember my blog, back on June 12th? The Virtues of Summer's weekly challenge was to take each of the fruits of the spirit, and spend a week practicing them. Love was the first week. I had to find my Joy in Him during all the chaos of job decisions. This week? Peace. Peace with my decision, peace with what's happening.

Next week? Patience. Crap.