Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Cult of Pumpkin Spice

12oz Decaf Soy Pumpkin Spice Latte w/Light Whip

...yes, I felt rather douche-y when she called out my order.  But I figured if the soy pumpkin spice steamer (just steamed milk with flavoring) cost almost $4, then I might as well order the infamous Starbucks PSL and just go for it.  I regret this decision.  It's not worth the hype and the $4.55 price tag.

I've tried various pumpkin spice creations this autumn and I am mostly disappointed.  The pastries have been the most successful (I fondly remember devouring half a pumpkin spice cheesecake in one night, but I was pregnant at the time, so I have an out), but the beverages have been mostly too "flavored" and sicky sweet.  I favor just focusing on the wonderful warm spices - nutmeg, cinnamon, and clove - and stop ramping up the sugar and the strange, artificial squashy flavor.  My favorite fall drink is a "harvest coffee" which is just the spices and a little hazelnut and vanilla flavoring in regular coffee, with a little bit of whip or some soy - just a bit.  A true comfort beverage.

End coffee ramble.

Some of you reading this (some of my old barista brethren and sistren) are probably nodding and smiling and thinking fondly of your next visit to ye old coffeehouse.  Or, like me, you are thinking of all things autumn: cool evenings and scarves, the smell of wet, fallen leaves.  Others are probably groaning or being outright condescending.  And it's you people I want to talk to today.  You may have your rationale for your distaste - I, too, am pretty damn annoyed with the Cult of Pumpkin Spice.  Capitalism is great for ruining a good thing with its commoditization and market over-focus.  But, still, I ask you all:

Don't poop on other people's happiness.

And, while we're at it, don't let anyone ever make you feel bad for what brings you joy.

I think back to when I was a kid imagining my future career.  I seriously wanted to be just about everything at once.  And everything was a possibility.  I was never told I couldn't do something because I was a girl, and girls couldn't do math or drive trucks for a living.  But my dad let his distaste be known for some of the careers I thought I wanted to go for, like being a singer or an actress.  I think he tried to walk it back later on when he realized that I was into those things.  But the damage had been done, so to speak.

My dad was the center of my young universe.  He gave me the gift of wonder, of questioning, of a slightly off-beat taste in humor.  And I felt embarrassed to like something he didn't think so much of.  So I diminished my dreams of doing those things and refocused on other things that I loved... that he happened to esteem a bit more than the theater stuff.  I wasn't fully aware until I was older how I had altered my desires around my father's opinions.

Now, I'm secure enough to hold on to the things that I love, to defend them without being defensive.  The same holds true of my opinions.  It was jarring during my adolescence, when I starting running into situations where my peers had vastly different ideas than I did, and I didn't know how to respond at first.  Now, I can still love and esteem the person and allow for us to have different opinions and preferences.  It's also why I'm not so rigid on some of my opinions any more, because the truth is probably somewhere in between.  I know my mind, I know why I believe what I believe and how much room there is for alternate perspectives.

Live and let live.  That's why I don't declare outright hatred or wrongness for anything... like pumpkin spice lattes or Justin Bieber, everyone's favorite pop culture whipping-boy.

I will engage in discussions about opinions if I think it's an appropriate situation to do so, but without any hate or condescension.  In particular, if I think someone is being hateful or hurtful to others, whether they have intended to or not, I have decided to be the one to (lovingly) poke a hole into their worldview.  Too often we are insulated in these ideological bubbles and only hear the same, increasingly myopic, flippant, and hostile commentary rebounding back at us.  I may not always come off even-tempered and kind (especially at 2 am over the internet) but it's all meant with love.

Because people are people... quothe Depeche Mode... and everybody deserves respect and space to love what they want to love, so long as they're not hurting anybody else.  Simple enough, right?

So... to wrap up this ramble... as a parent myself, now, I have vowed to keep my opinions about the things my boys like to myself.  I am really leaning on their father to do the same.  No matter how young they are, they can still absorb the contempt and snide remarks about some of the most annoying of their cartoons and such.  And it's never too early to cultivate the practice of allowing them the freedom to love what they want.

And, fortunately, at this age, I can limit their access to the most annoying stuff (they have no idea who Barney is, so no one send them any videos for Christmas, please!).  Right now they have excellent taste in music, if you are someone who believes that excellent taste includes the Beatles, the Pretenders (Oliver's doll "Chris" is now "Chrissy"), Talking Heads, the Smiths, TV on the Radio, Henry Rollins, Foo Fighters, Radiohead, lots of Moby, and the Smashing Pumpkins, which Henry requested in the car today since we were on our way to pick out our Halloween pumpkins.

Alright, I've lost the plot again.  The boys are done playing in the Barnes & Noble kids section and are itching to go home.

I guess I can add on a happy note that, while I did not pursue a career as a singer, music is actively part of my life.  I'm singing again in a choir at the local community college.  I might even go out for a solo this quarter.  I don't need the celebrity I once imagined as a child - just the little joy, each Tuesday night, of getting together with other people who share the love.

Aaaand I'm done.

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