On Starbucks, Angel Sightings and Pregnant Teen Moms

christmas pic

But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.  You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David,  and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”  “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”  The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.” Luke 1:30-35

I’ve often imagined this story as one of wonder–and terror.

So here’s Mary, who some say was about 14 when A FREAKING ANGEL SHOWED UP TO TALK TO HER.

An angel.

We’re not talking about a sweet little overweight cherub, flying around and sprinkling pixie dust everywhere. We’re talking about a full-grown (whatever that means) angel in all his terrifying glory, just randomly appearing to Mary was going about her day.

Can you imagine how this scenario would play out in modern times?

For example, Mary is stopping by Starbucks on her way to Jewish History class (because obviously there’s not a Christmas Break yet. Work with me, ok?). On her way inside the magical glass doors to the happy smells of ground coffee beans and white privilege she’s blocked by a glowing being.

Mary: “Excuse me, illuminated guy. I’m trying to get by to order my skinny white mocha before I’m trampled by the crowd.” Then she looks up, not to see a business man with a BlueTooth apparatus hanging off his ear, BUT A FREAKING ANGEL.

Mary: assuming that her Hebrew final has finally caused a mental break: “AHHHH!”

Angel: (Putting his giant hand on the shoulder of Mary’s “I’m a Belieber” T-shirt) “Mary, don’t be afraid.” Easier said then done, terrifying angel guy. Incidentally, have you ever noticed that when angels show up to speak to people they always begin the conversation with “Don’t be afraid” which is roughly translated to “Don’t stop breathing and fall over from a heart attack”  from the original Hebrew.

“God thinks you rock and has decided that…”

Mary, finally noticing that something is awry. “AHHHHHHH!”

Angel: “So here’s what’s going to happen. I know you’re still a minor and living at home but CONGRATULATIONS. You’re going to be MYSTERIOUSLY PREGNANT because God has decided that you are the perfect little girl to be the mama of Jesus.”

Mary, not wanting to offend the terrifying crazy guy while simultaneously trying to keep her heart from stopping, gently points out the obvious. “Oh! Well…I haven’t even had my first kiss yet, and my parents are old-fashioned and all, but I’m pretty sure that it takes more than that to get pregnant. Plus, ha ha, I was just playing with my My Little Pony set yesterday.”

Angel: “Not to worry. You don’t have to take out a personal ad in The Daily Scroll or anything. The power of the Holy Spirit will overcome you and … well, you may want to stop off at the 7-11 and buy some crackers and Sprite because you’re gonna be pregnant by sundown. You also might want to pick up some sweats and a copy of What to Expect When You’re Expecting the Messiah.”  By the way, your kid will be THE SON OF GOD.”

Mary: “AHHHHH!”

Actual Blue Tooth Business Guy, who’s annoyed at the hallucinating teenager who’s blocking his triple espresso. “Excuse me. Are you…” (noticing her paleness and assuming she’s about to have some sort of fit) “in line?”

Mary: Stepping out of the way, because she’s sweet like that and doesn’t want her personal issues to keep others from their happy coffee place. “No, not yet!”

Angel, patting Mary’s head: “It’s all gonna be ok, kid. You’re going places. Not only will you be talked about for the next several centuries, people are gonna write songs about you and tell your birth story over and over. Also, your face will be put on a candles that are sold at Dollar General and you’ll be in the movies. Better get an agent!” He disappears.

Mary, stunned and remembering that chapter in her health book that describes schizophrenia as appearing in the teen years, finds a place in line behind Bluetooth Guy.

Barista: “Welcome to Starbucks. What can I get started for you today?”

Mary: “I’ll have a Skinny White Mocha–decaf.”

Merry Christmas, Y’all!

In Search of the Perfect Shanghai Coffee

coffee in austin


You know who I am…or so you think you do. I’m the gal who always carries a cup of coffee wherever I go. In fact, my addiction is akin to that of a streetwise heroin junkie…only chubbier. That first jolt of java doesn’t wake me up, it just gets me primed for my real goal: the second cup.
I was once involved in this crazy exercise craze where I tried to put my health first for once. I did everything my lean and gorgeous coach recommended.

Situps and pushups at the butt crack of dawn? Check.
Jogging at 5:00 a.m.? No problem.Cutting back on sugar and sweets? A less enthusiastic, but still present commitment.

Then came the final straw: give up coffee.

Me: “Excuse me? Did you say give up toffee? No worries…haven’t touched the stuff since last Christmas. You can count on me, Coach.”
Coach: “You heard me. I said no more coffee.”
Me: “I’m sorry, must be the earwax. Did you say give up being bossy? Well, anything’s possible, I guess. But understand, I’ve been bossy for a really long time, possibly since my exit from the birth canal when I tried to tell the nurse how to do her job,” I rambled nervously.
Coach: “COF-FEE. You have to give up coffee! For Pete’s sake…”

And the gauntlet was thrown.

Me: Yeah, that’s not gonna happen. I’d sooner give up my car and my bachelor’s degree and my prescription medication. And, trust me, ain’t nobody gonna want THAT to happen.

But sadly, there wasn’t a discount club to turn to last May when I spent 3 weeks in Shanghai. I was told there would be coffee. No, that’s not the first question I asked when the idea surfaced. I think the very first question was “Do I have to get a bunch of shots?” We were even promised that coffee was brewed in the dorm we were staying in. I don’t really count the coffee machine, circa 1978, as fresh-brewed, but you know what? I drank it and I’d do it again. I’m not proud of it, but you have to ask yourself what you would do in this situation.

Yes, they have a Starbucks in Shanghai. But you have to take a bus filled to the gills with sweaty students to get there, and they sadly close at 9:00 p.m.

Finally, about a week in, I found a little restaurant that, bless its little heart, was really attempting to serve “American” food. I’m not sure what the Shanghaiese (not sure that’s a word but go with it man) think of when they conjure up images of American food, but let me tell you, this was NOT it. I’m not even sure if the pasta was made of flour. It tasted something LIKE flour, only less floury. It’s difficult to explain if you haven’t lived in the Far East. Anyway, I saw on the menu, “coffee” and decided to try it…I DID NOT GET MY HOPES UP.

You know what? It wasn’t bad. It was pretty good, especially next to my vending machine standards.


It was this day that changed my luck, because before the trip was over, I was sitting at High Tea on the 28th floor with two lovely ladies, Anita and Lynn, at the Renaissance Hotel drinking THIS:

coffee in arkansas


I knew the coffee gods smiled upon me that day.

Where do you think the best cup of coffee is served? Vote here in the comments block.