synonyms for starbucks

I WRITE IN COFFEE SHOPS A LOT.


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Specific Reviews of Specific Places in Which I’ve Written: Starbucks, Walnut & San Fernando, Burbank

Starbucks, Walnut & San Fernando
This is one of the places I most often write.
Pros:

  • It’s huge–20 or so tables, plus six easy chairs. Also a patio with another few tables (but nothing nice to look at to make sitting outside particularly desirable).
  • The people are friendly; I usually camp out there for four or five hours and they’re perfectly nice about it
  • There are some food places nearby if I want to break for lunch, including a Zankou Chicken and a great salad place called The Chop Shop
  • The parking is both plentiful and free
  • Two bathrooms, neither with locks (I hate having to get/remember the code lock)

Cons:

  • Sometimes the music is played so loud I have to turn the iPod volume up way high.
  • Parking lot can be a huge pain to drive through because of the drive-thru line.
  • Since a lot of the tables are in the middle of the room, there aren’t always outlets… not a big issue for me but the biggest issue for some.
  • Fairly often it’s so crowded I can’t get a table. That’s the big one.

Three Splashes of Soy Milk (out of five splashes)


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Letter Box: Leaving Stuff on Tables

Dear Synonyms for Starbucks,
When you get up from your hard-won and coveted seat in a Starbucks, what do you leave on your table to save it? Is it safe to just leave your laptop or purse or whatever, if you’re just getting a refill or going to the rest room?
Signed,
Perplexed in Portland

Dear PiP,
Yeah I have no idea. I mean, I see people walk away from their laptops sitting open on their tables, or leaving purses with $100 bills sticking out of them, and I admire those people, but that is just not me at all. I feel like an idiot packing everything up–and if everything includes a big laptop it’s incredibly annoying–but I’m also scared to leave anything I don’t want to lose. Even though it’s possible to get a lock for the laptop (which is attached to a long cable you wrap around the table leg, so it can’t be grabbed), I always worry someone will spill something on it or something.
So, mostly, I only bring a laptop to Starbucks if I have a writing buddy (on of the many reasons a writing buddy is a nice thing to have). Otherwise, I write on my AlphaSmart or Ipad, both of which are easy to stick in my purse. To save the table, I usually leave a spiral notebook (cause who would want to take that?) and a sweater or hoodie on the chair. Probably no one is going to risk getting caught stealing for a ragged old hoodie (and honestly, if they need it that bad…). The one valuable thing I sometimes leave on the table is the wireless keyboard I use with my iPad. That’s because if I stick it in my purse I either have to turn off the blue tooth or know that my purse is going to hit both the “play music” key and the “full volume” key just as I’m entering the ladies’ room. So I leave it on the table and put my notebook over it. I figure if someone is actually moving things around looking for the stuff worth stealing, someone else will probably say something.
A thing I HATE to do (but do now and then anyway) is ask a nearby stranger to watch my stuff. One, I don’t know them maybe THEY’RE THE THIEF, and two, what if something happens and I’m gone for a long time and they have to stick around make sure I’m not robbed and they miss their kid being born.
On another note, if you agree to watch someone’s stuff you cannot leave for any reason until they either 1. get back or 2. are gone more than forty minutes, at which point it’s okay to alert the staff.
Best,
S4S
PS Oh, and never leave just your drink to save your table. Someone WILL throw it out and claim they thought you’d left.
PPS Of course you already know that it’s only okay to save your table for a few minutes while you get a refill, go to the rest room, or mmmmaybe take a quick call outside.


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The Grocery Store Starbucks, and Our Shared Civic Duty

starbuckssafeway

I live in a place with lots of traffic, so I never really know how long it’s going to take me to get anywhere. Especially since I’ve moved from Hollywood to the Valley–going over the hill could take twenty minutes, or it could take an hour. I hate being late so I always leave early, and this means I’m often in a strange neighborhood forty minutes before I need to be there.
Luckily, with google maps on my home computer, not to mention the GPS search function on my phone, I can always find a Starbucks to hole up in and write. I usually include it when I get directions somewhere–I do a quick search to find what Starbucks are nearby (obviously, there are other coffee places, and I look at those too. But as I’ve said before, I usually have a gift card for Starbucks, and I’m on a serious budget these days). Sometimes I’ll leave even earlier than I need to–just figure I’ll get an hour of writing in before the appointment.
Another thing I’ll do, if my husband and I miss each other because he’s in rehearsals for a play; I’ll do a search for a Starbucks near his rehearsal space, drive him there, go to Starbucks and write, and pick him up after. Quality time in the car together, and I get to be productive.
Most of the time, this works out delightfully. I find a new Starbucks (or, often, one I’ve been to before but forgotten) and have a lovely time getting lots done.
But now and then, it’s not so great. Of course sometimes it’s too crowded, but I can almost always find a place to squeeze in at a counter or on the patio.
But the worst, the VERY WORST, is the dreaded GROCERY STORE STARBUCKS.
The fact that these are listed the same as a regular Starbucks on google maps is a TRAVESTY.  I don’t understand how it happens, and it has caused me grief innumerable times (I know you’re thinking I should just see if there’s a grocery store at the same address, but at least around here grocery stores and coffee shops share the same strip mall all the time). Not just Starbucks; Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf has burned me this way too.
There is, however something we can do. We have power, and we can take care of one another: We can leave reviews that mention the Starbucks is inside a grocery store. If you know of a Starbucks that is inside another store, take a moment. Mention it in a google review (also: Yelp!). Put the fact that it’s in a grocery store in all caps at the top of the review. If this becomes a thing, you might be protected from this horror.
At the very least, you might not end up at the SAME GROCERY STORE MORE THAN ONCE, as has possibly happened to someone I know.


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How to Create a Perfect Writing Playlist

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I love the chatter and background noise in coffee shops, unless people are actually talking near me or the store is playing any music at all, at which point I have to put on headphones.

When you’re writing, you want to be focused on what you’re putting on the page. Pausing to change songs is a problem, and so is pausing to enjoy songs. You want to be able to turn on your ipod and then not touch it again. You want every song to be perfect background to your creativity.

Here’s how to make that playlist.
It’s not about hand-picking all the right songs; it would take forever and you’d get impatient and make the list too small and you’d get bored with it. The much better way it is to just get rid of all the wrong songs.

First: Make a new playlist with every song you own –unless you already have a smaller playlist that is just songs you like. In that case, copy that one.

Next, get rid of all the songs you’re going to stop writing to skip past. Songs you secretly hate, but own because they’re by your favorite artist, or because your friend bought you the album, or whatever. We all have them. There’ll be good excuses below to explain why they’re not on the playlist even though you loooooove them (in case your bff, who keeps buying you Prince albums, sees the playlist). Sometimes you can remove whole artists or albums at a time this way. And don’t feel bad–I hate “Bodies” by the Sex Pistols and that does not in any way diminish my love for every other song they made.

Now, get rid of anything that will pull your focus.

  • All albums that are just spoken word— Seinfeld wondering what the deal is, Rollins telling about that time he was in an airport, that sort of thing.
  • All the songs that tell a story. Anything that has a strong character singing about a specific event. Because chances are, you’re not going to be writing about that character or event in that moment. (If, for instance, you’re writing a sex scene, the single worse song that can come on is “The Gambler.” This is a proven fact. )This can go fast if you go through your show tunes albums and just pick out the few that AREN’T like this.
  • All the songs that don’t work as single songs but require the song after it to immediately come on. Songs from concept albums–a lot of Pink Floyd songs are like this, for instance. If hearing the end of one song and not hearing the beginning of the next is like missing a step, your brain will screech to a halt while you notice it.
  • Songs you love too much, or anything that could be called your “jam.” If when it comes on you have to stop everything to listen to it and drum on the table or whatever, it needs to go. Put it on a different playlist.
  • Songs that make you think strongly of a specific scene in a movie. If you can hear “Maniac” and think of anything other than Jennifer Beales dancing, well, that’s surprising. If you’re not writing, right then, about a person dancing, it can get in the way.
  • Songs that invoke a particular memory or emotional reaction in you. I love REM’s “Losing My Religion,” but every time I hear it I spend anywhere from 45 seconds to fifteen minutes thinking about the guy I loved and lost when I was nineteen. This is not good for writing. Or “Eye of the Tiger,” the best song possible when you’re trying to motivate yourself off the couch, is not a great one when writing a death scene, say.

When you’re done, you should have a whole bunch of songs that are pleasant and ignorable. Songs you like but don’t make you pay attention to them. Of course as you write, you’ll find there are still songs on the playlist that pull your focus or that you never realized you hated. Make a note of them, and remove them from the playlist next time you’re at your computer. It will happen less and less often.

Oh, and play the list on shuffle, always. If you get used to a pattern, your brain will complain if it’s missing.