Tag Archives: coffee

Fifty Things I Hate About the South

A while back, I was at my hairdresser’s and I was complaining about the way drivers in Augusta take 15 minutes to make a turn into a driveway. We were laughing and then I said, I was going to write an article entitled, “Fifty Things I Hate about the South.” That was an exaggeration, and I do not hate the South. But, as a transplanted Northerner, it has sometimes been challenging fitting in.

How did a nice Jewish girl from the NY/NJ area end up (not a good choice of words) in Augusta, GA you might ask? Well, through a series of fateful events I moved here. I had been working at the WTC, and a year after the 9/11 attacks, I was laid off along with hundreds of others. After wracking my brains about how I would survive, it came to me; I’ll move down South. So, I up and sold my Townhouse and bought one here.

I was familiar with the area since I had been visiting my friend’s family for 8 years on vacation. But visiting and actually living here was a totally different story. With all the uncertainty in my life, the initial reason I moved here was financial; let’s face it, it is cheaper to live in Augusta. Since moving here, I have taken risks and reinvented myself many times over but it has still been a rocky ride at times. In the beginning, I wondered if I made a mistake because I missed my family terribly and some of the differences were very stark to me. As a liberal Northerner, it is sometimes hard to swallow some of the political leanings of this area. I missed the day-trips to Camelback, PA to go skiing too. I cannot escape the question of “where do you come from” (as if I’m an alien from another planet) due to my New York accent. I also cannot fathom why, when asked my name at Starbucks, my coffee comes with the name “Maryland” on the cup. Even when I tell people my name, they still say, “Maryland?” I get junk mail addressed to “Maryland Botta.” Maybe I should change my name to Washington, DC. The names down here are different too. I discovered that Melvis is an actual name, which took me by surprise because that was a made up name my brother and I used for my cousin Melvin and his wife Phyllis. You also don’t find the variety of ethnic restaurants here that you find up North, and I miss that sometimes. The first time I was asked what Church I belonged to, I was taken aback; that would be considered rude up North, and nobody’s business. But in the South, it is commonplace and acceptable. Living in Augusta often means that everybody knows everybody (a la Peyton Place)—you always run into people you know, or people that know who you know; that’s life in a small town. But when all is said and done, despite all these differences, the South has grown on me, even when I wasn’t even aware of it. Here’s the thing—for years every time someone would ask me if I like it in Augusta, I would say, “Eh, it’s OK.” I could not make up my mind, but one day, while driving down the street on a really lovely spring day, it suddenly occurred to me that Augusta has become my home. I have made some friendships, and have established a life of sorts here. I have come to appreciate the South, even though it is not perfection (but no place is). So, the next time someone asks me if I like it down South, I will say, “Yes, I do and I think I’ll stay.”

Addiction

Help, I am suffering from a hopeless addiction. It is not cocaine, or crack, or marijuana, or booze–no it is Starbucks. It is not even the coffee, per se, because I could easily make lattes at home but it is the atmosphere. Each store has a different feel to it, and unfortunately I know them all. The one near I-20 is large and roomy, but there are not that many areas to connect to the internet and sometimes the Wi Fi is down. The one near Evans is often too crowded to even find a seat. There are numerous stores in other stores (crappy atmosphere), etc. But I have found a real “home” at the Starbucks on Wrightsboro Road, 5 minutes from my house, where I can almost always find a place to hook up my laptop and either write or work on my photos. When I was working full time, my Starbucks visits were limited to a couple of times a week, but now that I am officially “retired” I find myself there every day. My creativity is boosted because there are no distractions, the music is great, the baristas know my drink and I feel like I am in a Cheers episode where everybody (actually only one barista does) knows my name. I guess I can substitute “knows my name” to “knows my drink.” Just like an addiction, I feel strange (like something is missing) when I don’t drop in for at least a little while. The biggest problem is that I am spending too much money–even though I have switched from lattes to iced Americanos, it still adds up. And, just like an addiction, I get a sense of “ease and comfort” when I walk in. I want to tell people to send me Starbucks gift cards rather than flowers or gifts on my birthday or Mother’s Day. What is the answer and should I try to break this addiction? Should I go to “Starbucks Rehab” and attend meetings, with total abstinence? Or should I just practice acceptance and just give in to an entity beyond my control.