The coffeeshop of choice, both last Monday and today, is Tully's, which is basically the more socially acceptable Starbucks in Seattle. I don't quite understand what the stigma specifically against Starbucks is, since (1)Seattle's the one city in the world in which Starbucks actually is local, and (2)Given their treatment of employees and environmentally friendly efforts, it is certainly a lesser evil than many big corporations. I'm not sure Tully's is any better or worse, but for some reason, it's okay to be a Seattlite with a cup of Tully's in your hand; Starbucks, not so much.
With that said, Tully's Pumpkin Spice Latte totally trumps Starbucks'. It's a matter of deliciously spiced coffee versus pumpkin pie in liquid form, respectively. The latter's just a little too sweet for my taste. Either way, though, pumpkin spice lattes are great, and there's something dangerous about the changing leaves that makes me feel justified in spending money on any autumn-themed beverages and snacks (pumpkin everything! Bread, muffins, cupcakes (as you'll see in my next entry), coffee...fall is fantastic.)
Mostly though, Tully's has a similar feel - standard coffee menu with frou frou coffee drinks and faux-Italian names for over-sugared beverages, huge calorie-laden pastries in a glass display case, chic decor with bold colors, and coffee mugs and grinders for sale on the merchandise shelves. Free wi-fi, though, at Tully's...and, one-price-fits-all for any size of pumpkin lattes, tea and cocoa = awesome. Despite the less-nuanced atmosphere at Tully's than some of the independent places I've reviewed, this particular location is tucked away on a lovely residential corner and serves as a nice, cozy respite from the brisk, bustling world outside.
Interesting observation: so, when I walked into Tully's this morning, the place was equally filled with people in business suits and...middle schoolers! With no parents around - just bunches of kids gathered around tables, decked out in school uniforms, drinking coffee, comparing answers on their math homework. For a moment, I thought, Wow, only in Seattle!, because I'm not sure I was even truly aware of the existence of coffee until college - but in the coffee capital of the world, I guess they start early. But then I realized what was really unusual about the situation - not that kids were drinking coffee, but that they were in a public place without parents. How did they get there? I wasn't able to get myself to meet up with friends anywhere until I had a car...
Of course! Again, I was reminded of why city-living is great. Kids can be so much more independent, because they can walk or bike everywhere, and don't need parents chauffeuring them everywhere. It's great.
In other urban-appreciative moments this week, I worked a 9-5 shift yesterday. I looked with equal parts forlornness and smugness at the traffic jam on I-5 as I walked my favorite bridge over it on my way to work. Had a generally great day there, then walked to the gym at the end of it to meet Seyeon for a super-intense spinning class amidst the post-workday gym rush - not an experience I care to repeat, because too many people in the gym at once stresses me out - but the high concentration of people certainly made me feel like an active part of the pulse of the city!
To round out the urban experience, I got spit on and called several unmentionable obscenities by a homeless man outside the gym on my way in. He proceeded to follow me in and scream things at other gym-goers inside until the staff chased him out. I'm not in Kansas anymore...
Anyway. All this city-living, among Seattlites walking their dogs and biking to work and running city blocks in spandex, and scarf-donning couples holding hands and strolling through fallen leaves on city sidewalks...makes me sometimes feel like a character in a movie. At least that's the way I prefer to imagine myself on my walk-commutes, decked out in fleece, my backpack packed for the day with everything I need, Ipod playing what I imagine to be the soundtrack to my own personal movie, and imagining self-reflecting voiceover about my day.
The soundtrack to my autumn season in Seattle, in case you want to follow along, goes as so (mostly a huge mess of singer-songwriter awesomeness):
Vanilla Twilight, Owl City
I'm on Fire, Kelly Dalton (Springsteen cover)
To Be Alone with You, Sufjan Stevens
It Started to Rain, Amos Lee
One of Those Days, Joshua Radin
Cinders and Smoke, Iron and Wine
We Looked Like Giants, Deathcab for Cutie
For My Lover, Tracy Chapman
Falling Slowly, Glen Hansard (Once Soundtrack)