Thursday, July 29, 2010

Reasons to smile

I watch a lot of news (local, national, global--you name it). It makes me want to throw things. Oil spills (in the Gulf and right here in Michigan) and stories like this make me think I'd be happier if I didn't care to be an informed citizen.

So I thought I'd post a few reasons to smile (both personal and otherwise, in no particular order). Because I really do have quite a few good ones.

  • My friend Victoria found this quote and posted it to my Facebook wall the other day: "If anyone tells you that you can't achieve your dreams, or puts you down, make your hand into a claw and tell them you're a little monster and you can do whatever the fuck you want." - Lady GaGa (I'm so happy to know that someone like her has so much influence over people these days. It's refreshing.)
  • My friend Meredith has been in Germany for the past year, and will finally be returning home on Saturday.
  • Judge Susan Bolton blocked some of the most troubling parts of Arizona's new immigration law just before it went into effect today. And although her ruling will be appealed, it gave me something to be hopeful about.
  • I came across this video on YouTube today. The gist of it is this: Target donated $150,000 to Republican Tom Emmer's gubernatorial campaign in Minnesota. Emmer has connections with anti-gay groups, so a woman announced she would boycott the store. She's been criticized by some who argue that Target likely donated the money not because they're anti-gay, but rather, because they endorse Emmer for other reasons. But I'm really happy that this woman took a stand, and brought this to the nation's attention. More of us need to make some noise. If we don't, we won't make progress. Mega props to her. I won't be shopping at Target any time soon.
  • The other day I was driving through Grosse Pointe, and found myself behind a car with a "Power to the peaceful" bumper sticker on it. I don't see too many of those around here.
  • I recently found out that my friend Patric, who just got his BA from Western Michigan University, will be attending Wayne State for grad school starting this fall. And because I've just transferred to Wayne State, this means brilliant company and great conversation are both in my near future.
  • I'm employed. Given some of the financial situations my friends are in right now, I'm really lucky.

What are your reasons to smile?

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Vienna Coffee Shoppe

Anyone who knows me knows that I appreciate good food. My mom has said that watching me eat salmon is a lot like watching a kid open presents on Christmas morning. She also told me that my first trip to McDonald's was an epic flop. I was the only four-year-old on the planet who thought French fries were gross and demanded we leave, because I wanted "real food."

Because I'm thin, my high school guidance counselor flat-out asked me several times if I was anorexic. I was pretty offended by that. Given my voracious eating habits, anorexia sure as hell isn't the reason for my thinness. I have Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), which means that every now and then, the flap of skin responsible for keeping stomach acid from rising into my esophagus throws a temper tantrum. And when stomach acid enters foreign territory, things get ugly. On a few occasions, it's gotten so severe that heartburn has prevented me from eating for days at a time.

Every time I overcome a bout with GERD, I celebrate by eating a huge meal. And when I was in high school, this often meant a trip to the Vienna Coffee Shoppe.

I used to laugh at people who were deceived by the sign above the door. They'd come in and order a medium coffee, expecting to be handed one in a Styrofoam cup and get on with their busy day.

But it wasn't that kind of place.

The Vienna Coffee Shoppe was more of a restaurant than anything else. It had a full menu. I used to order a chicken panini. Sounds simple enough, doesn't it? Wrong-o. It was incredible: huge and delicious. I have no idea what kind of sauce was in there, but it couldn't be replicated (trust me, I've tried). And it came with a salad whose dressing couldn't be found anywhere else, either. There was all sorts of amazing stuff on that sandwich, and the cool thing is, the ingredients changed depending upon whatever happened to be on hand at the time. It came with lots of fruits and vegetables, too. I could never finish it all.

The owner of the Vienna Coffee Shoppe made my day every time I went in there. She was this crazy, unique, sweet old lady. Her outfits were colorful, and she'd dye her hair fun colors too. And she always wore Teva sandals, which looked just ridiculous enough to work.

She called me her "sveetie girl" (note the accent) and always gave me a free piece of cake with my panini. (I get the feeling she did that for everyone, but it still made me feel special.)

It was usually pretty dead in there, or at least, that was the case whenever I turned up. I had a hard time convincing people to come with me because it was such a weird little place to hang out. But I loved it so much, and when all else failed, I'd go by myself.

About three years ago, the lady who owned it (whose name I still don't know) was diagnosed with cancer. The Vienna Coffee Shoppe closed, and she has since passed away. I still wish I could have told her how much I loved it, but then again, I'm pretty sure she knew.

I was left with a broken heart and empty stomach, and still haven't quite gotten over it. To this day, I try not to drive past it, because doing so makes me too sad.

If you missed it, I'm really sorry, because it was lovely.