synonyms for starbucks


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Starbucks Today

Five Things That Happened to Me at Starbucks Today:

  1. Barrista guy handed me my second refill and said “any more of this, and I’m sending you to Coffee Anonymous.” It was, I repeat, only my second refill. Of decaf.
  2. I somehow managed to spill coffee all over myself, the condiments table, and the floor (but not, thank goodness, anyone else). Everyone in the place was very nice about it.
  3. Guy at the table next to me scratched literally dozens of lottery tickets. To my deep disappointment, he did not at any point leap up from the table, arms above his head, shouting in triumph.
  4. I relearned, for the thousandth time, that when you work on a project you don’t need to know the next six steps you must take. Just take that first step, no matter how small, and the next step will reveal itself. I’ve been finding other things to do all week because I was certain that once I’d done the one next bit I could think of, I’d be stuck. Now, I know all kinds of things I need to do next. The real thing I need to learn is to trust the process.
  5. I asked the barrista to break a five, and he said he couldn’t. I explained I’d been there for ages and wanted to tip them, and he said, “It’s okay! You tipped us with your mind!”


Then I realized I hadn’t eaten in ten hours and went home.

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Put One Word After Another: Neil Gaiman’s Eight Rules of Writing

Reading Neil Gaiman’s short stories always make me feel incredibly excited to go write. Another favorite thing he said (in a graduation speech, I think?) is that writers need to have any two of the following: Talent, a charming personality, and the ability to meet deadlines. If you have two, people will let the other one slide.

Put One Word After Another: Neil Gaiman’s Eight Rules of Writing.

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Letter Box: What to Bring

Dear Synonyms for Starbucks,

When you go to a coffee shop to write, what items do you bring with you, and why? Are there variations depending on where you go?
Signed, Wondering in Washington

Dear WiW,
My purse is always way too heavy and you don’t really need to know about the bottles of sanitizer and reams of receipts floating around the bottom of it, so I’ll stick with things that actually pertain to writing in coffee shops. Aren’t you glad?

  1. Earphones. This is the single most important item. I like having people near me when I write, but I usually won’t write a word if I can hear them. I’m awful at filtering out sounds. Also, there are certain types of music that make me (maybe literally) insane.
  2. My iPod Touch. To plug the earphones into. If I’m going light I can also plug them into my iPad, of course, or in an emergency my phone–but I only have two albums loaded on that (Never Mind the Bollocks, Sex Pistols; Anything, Damned) so it gets old. I have a tiny iPod shuffle for when I’m working out but I don’t usually use it for writing–it doesn’t has my workout playlist, not my writing playist.
  3. Something to write with: either my AlphaSmart, iPad and keyboard combo, my laptop (if I have a writing buddy to watch it while I pee), or in an absolute pinch my iPod touch or my phone. If I’m freewriting, it’s just a notebook and pen, and if I’m editing something, the printed-out manuscript and a pen with colored ink.
  4. My phone, partly so I can check email and FB without quitting out of my writing software, partly so I can keep running commentaries of what’s going on at the Starbucks (either for this blog or to send as an email to my bff Alicia–she swears she enjoys reading them). But mostly to use as a timer; if I’m having trouble settling in to write, turning on a timer app and setting it for 30 minutes works incredibly well. Having the timer running and not writing makes me feel much more guilty than regular not-writing.
  5. A re-usable coffee cup. I only remember to bring it about half the time, and boy am I pleased with myself when I do. Actually, lately, it’s more like three-quarters of the time. Huzzah!
  6. Sugar-free Cough Drops. I am pretty much never without a cough drop in my mouth. It’s just who I am.
  7. A jacket, even if it’s warm, so I can drape it over the back of my chair when I get up for a refill or to visit the ladies’.
  8. A spiral notebook, even if I’m planning on typing. Partly because if I’m stuck I find that writing with a pen and paper usually unsticks me, partly because I like to make quick notes to myself when I’m writing, and partly because it’s the best thing to leave on your table if you’re worried about getting your stuff stolen.
  9. Money or a Starbucks card, for the purchasing of the coffee. Really, I’m surprised I have to mention that.
  10. A bag big enough to carry it all in. I don’t like having a purse and a separate bag for my iPad/computer/what-have-you, because who wants to carry two things? Especially if you’re going to be packing it all up every time you go to the bathroom. Since I often walk to Starbucks, it’s usually a backpack–I have a great one that converts to a messenger bag, and another one that is sort of ugly but I got it for eight dollars at Target and it is black “leather” so I feel like it is less super-casual. I also have a simply enormous black purse I got at Ross years ago, and then went and had the straps replaced so I could carry heavy things in it without them breaking. I always keep a cute little black purse in the trunk of my car, so if I’m going to dinner or something after writing I can put my phone and wallet into that and leave the big bag in my trunk.
  11. A clean handkerchief. Because I never go anywhere without a clean handkerchief, and don’t understand why anyone would.

Of course there’s all sorts of other things one might carry, like chapstick and nail clippers, but that sort of goes in the ‘things at the bottom of one’s purse’ category.


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Tools for Writing in Public: the iPad and Wireless Keyboard

ipad and keyboard3Most often when I write in coffee shops, I use my iPad and a wireless keyboard. I know a lot of people who get special cases for this, that make the iPad look a lot like a laptop. I don’t, because for me the absolute best possible way to type is with the screen on a table and the keyboard in my lap. Most tables are a little bit too high for me, and my shoulders start to ache after a while if I try to reach up to one to type. Of course I still use my laptop often, with it on a table, but usually that’s when I’m editing and there’s as much reading and highlighting as there is typing. If I’m going to sit and type 5000 words straight, I’m much, MUCH happier with my keyboard in my lap. Also, I tend to change the angle of the keyboard depending on the lighting conditions where I’m sitting. My case lets me set it so sometimes it’s almost flat, sometimes it’s standing on its side, and sometimes it’s standing on its end. The combo cases are a lot more restrictive.


  1. Keyboard runs on double-A batteries; I always carry a spare set in my keyboard case and never have to worry about running out of power. In my experience, at least, iPads take forever to run out if all you’re doing is typing. I have more than once spent nine hours typing nonstop and still been at 30% power.
  2. Super light. The keyboard weighs nothing and the iPad weighs next to nothing (as long as you don’t get a super-heavy case for it. Why? Why would anyone do this?).
  3. If you’re somewhere where you don’t feel like hauling out the keyboard, you can leave it in your bag and write on your iPad with your thumbs.
  4. Easy to throw into your bag when you get up to use the bathroom. Unlike the laptop, which is a whole thing.
  5. When you hook up your keyboard via bluetooth, you get to see the names of the bluetooth-enabled devices around you, and they’re often adorable.


  1. If you forget to disconnect the bluetooth before packing everything up, you’ll knock your keyboard in such a way that iPad’s volume will be turned all the way up, and then you’ll knock it again and music will start playing. Or an audiobook, which is somehow even more disconcerting. The best is when this happens but you’re listening to your ipod with headphones and have no idea why people are looking at you funny.
  2. The fact that it’s segmented means it’s very difficult, maybe even impossible depending on the size of your lap, to use without a table. So if the only chairs at Starbucks are the big comfy easy chairs, you’re kind of out of luck.
  3. Turning on the bluetooth takes a minute. It’s not a huge thing, but it can be annoying. It’s incredibly annoying for me, because somehow I banged the keyboard and the power button got stuck. At first it wouldn’t turn on but I fixed that by following instructions online and, with an exacto knife, shaving away some of the metal holding the button down (only cut myself a few times!). Now it won’t turn off, and while it’s usable, the batteries drain fast. So, I turn it off by taking out the batteries and turn it on by putting them back in, and I have to kind of time it with the setting up bluetooth. Because it is still usable, I feel like buying a new keyboard would be an entirely unforgivable expense. I’m pretty sure I’m right about that. But it’s kind annoying.

Four Splashes of Soy Milk (out of five splashes)

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The Best Book on Writing I’ve Ever Read: The Productive Writer by Sage Cohen

The thing about The Productive Writer: Tips and Tools to Help You Write More, Stress Less, and Create Success by Sage Cohen is that it’s not so much about how to write, or at least not about how to improve your craft.

The truth is, it doesn’t matter how well you write if you never write. We all know those people, or are those people, or have been those people, who want to be writers but never really finish anything. I once spent roughly five years with a short story I was going to turn into a novel. I did lots of other things during that five years, of course. Creative, productive things. But I sure didn’t write. Or, I often wrote—I’d do those delightful writing exercises like “What if rain were sticky, and you were a duck?” that possibly helped me to be a better writer, but I never actually completed anything. Ever.

The Productive Writer is about finding the time to write, how to get yourself to sit down and start typing, how to figure out the small steps that lead to big goals, how to make little bad ideas become big good ones, and how to organize your writing career. It drastically changed my writing habits and how I thought about writing. It made me realize I had more time to write than I’d known, helped me figure out which habits worked for me (even if they never would for others) and showed me how to redesign my goals and plans in ways that made sense. It also made extremely clear the ways I was stopping myself from moving forward. I’d already been concentrating for quite some time on changing from being someone who wanted to be a writer to being someone who wrote… This book supercharged that process for me.

five splashes of soy milk (out of five splashes)


A ridiculously long time spent at Starbucks

12:30 p.m. To say I’m starting later than I intended is an insult to the entire concept of time. Why am I so bad at getting out of the house? But, I’m here now. There’s that, I suppose.

12:32 p.m. “here” is Starbucks, btw. And I’m not leaving for a long, long time.

12:46 p.m. those big headphones that cover the whole ear–the sort DJs wear–seem to be becoming more and more of a thing. I understand the listening experience is greatly improved and all, but they seem to me like they’d just be one more pain-in-the-ass thing to carry around.

12:52 p.m. I use a nickel to unscrew the battery compartment on my keyboard. I just absent-mindedly put it down on the table, then glanced at it moment later and saw it’s standing on its edge. Have nickels gotten thicker? The only other explanation is ghosts.

1:17 p.m. Just realized the paramedics are here. Dimly appalled that there was, apparently, some sort of emergency and I didn’t notice. No one seems to be moving very fast, though. They’re taking a girl’s blood pressure. I’m guessing she fainted.

1:25 p.m. Getting a refill. Recently downloaded the Starbucks app to my phone and I just remembered I can use it to pay with my Starbucks card. Wish I’d thought of it when I got the original cup of coffee, as that would be more momentous and all, but still: exciting!

1:26 p.m. A thing I really wish: that this Starbucks kept napkins by the cash registers so that when I take the lid off my cup for them to refill, I could wipe away all the drops of coffee clinging to the lid. I mean, obviously this would not be in my top three wishes, or even my top 100, but still.

1:28 p.m. Barista did not seem to understand how exciting it was that I was using the phone app for the first time. She’s the only one here I really don’t like much.

1:33 p.m. and when she gave me my coffee, there were grounds floating on top. Great.

1:50 p.m. I have an insanely horrible itch on the bottom of my foot. If I take off my shoe and scratch it, I’ll feel like a huge weirdo if anyone notices. But… I don’t think I have a choice.

1:51 pretty sure I made it look like I was just retying my shoe.

1:54 p.m. Have not gotten nearly as much writing done as I should have by now. Am going to set my timer and see how much I can write in 30 minutes. Go!

2:50 p.m. Ended up doing 45 minutes straight. 1300 words. Not my best but I’ve done worse. To reach my day’s goal I just have to do that… Five more times. Oh dear. Did I mention I got kind of a late start? Maybe I can type faster…

3:03 p.m. There is a car right outside the window across from my table and sunlight is bouncing off the chrome directly into my eyes. Can’t seem to adjust my cap to block it (I know you’re sad that my life is so hard).

3:05 p.m. Have twisted myself around ridiculously to avoid incredibly bright light, but keep glancing up to see if it’s gone, cause I’m an idiot.

3:07 p.m. Right. Another 45 minutes.

3:57 p.m. 1200 words. Durn it. I honestly thought I was typing faster that time, too.

3:55 p.m. The charger for my android has an attachment that makes it a charger for my iPod. I think we can all agree that this is the best thing anyone has ever invented.

4:07 p.m. Guy at the condiments bar asked me about my $1 reusable cup. I told him about how if you buy 10 cups of coffee it pays for itself. He thought people using it should get free refills, and I told him about how you get free refills with the gold card. Then I told him how to get a gold card. By the end of the conversation I felt the need to clarity that I don’t work for Starbucks.

6:03 p.m. I’ve written about 4500 words so far today. It’s a lot but should be more. I think its time to get something to eat. The plan was to go next door to the salad place, or maybe Zankou chicken, but I’m worried that when I come back there won’t be any tables. Trying to decide if I should just eat something here, but I don’t like much of the real food they have. Plus, I’m sorry, but it’s sort of over priced, too.

6:58 p.m. Ended up leaving to get food. Have returned, fed (awful, but my fault for ordering the wrong things), and found a table. Not a great one; it’s by the door and its super cold out but whatever. It’s a table.

7:03 p.m. Just got back from getting my coffee to find two young teenagers sitting at my table. I pointed out my notebook was on the table, and they moved–luckily another table had just opened up. I’m feeling kind of rude, like maybe I should have taken the new table instead (and asked them to give me my notebook I guess?) but in the moment I was just really disconcerted. Its a very large, very bright red notebook. Normally I put my jacket on the chair as well as something on the table… it was just too cold to not wear it. Anyway, I’m feeling kind of bad about the whole thing.

7:25 p.m. Couple next to me having a half-joking argument. Woman just asked me to tell her boyfriend not to talk to her like that. I did, with no reservations. Jerk face.

7:30 p.m. Kind of regretting my “whatever it’s a table” line. It is absurdly cold by the door. So glad I brought fingerless gloves. Wish is also brought a blanket.

7:41 p.m. Darn it, earlier a guy with something really weird written on his shirt came in and I was going to mention it here but I didn’t want to stop working…and now I can’t remember what it was. Clearly my priorities are screwed up.

7:45 p.m. It might actually be so cold I have to leave.

8:50 p.m. Stuck it out for a while. Now at 6500 words for the day (not counting the 1000 I wrote here…), which means with what I’d already written I’m a third of the way through my current project. Was planning on walking home, but my lovely husband has offered to come get me.

9:00 p.m. Yes of COURSE I left a tip. Sheesh.