Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Black As Midnight On A Moonless Night

My problem started early.

In high school, I slept in the backyard, in a boat house. That might sound odd, but allow me to elaborate. My family had a boat, briefly––a terrible financial decision made by a stepfather in the throes of a midlife crisis, but it didn't last long, and once we got rid of the boat, my stepfather set to work drywalling and wiring the boathouse, converting it into a detached home office.

Once my mom got rid of my stepdad, I made his former office my bedroom. And it was glorious. Sort of.

To a fifteen-year-old, the freedom of rooming in a converted boat house was thrilling, though I promptly realized I lacked the responsibility that came with the privilege. Every evening I'd bid my mother goodnight, walk across the lawn to my room, close the door, and party all night. It didn't matter that it was just me and my cat kickin' it to Rob Zombie until 4 AM. It felt like I was breaking every law in the book.

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Inevitably, I was a zombie every morning at school. I failed algebra because I couldn't stay awake. One morning in English class I dozed off, then woke up twenty minutes later to the entire class (including the teacher) staring at me, and was informed I'd been having a very loud nightmare about Gremlins. Clearly I needed to take matters into my own hands, and that's how I became a regular at the school coffee shop.

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It fixed everything. Suddenly I was alert and chipper all day long. How had I gone fifteen long years without knowing the restorative virtues of coffee? There was no going back. And that was precisely the problem. I became thoroughly dependent on my morning coffee, and the issue progressed well into college. I became a coffee person, one of those insufferable douchebags who laments, "I simply don't feel like a person before I have my morning coffee, you know?"

I briefly kicked the habit one summer in college while working at a coffee shop, of all places. Something about serving lattes all day makes you despise any and all coffee products. Unfortunately I only managed to replace one vice for another, and my trial separation from coffee merely led me into the arms of another hot beverage: tea. And that was even worse. Tea people are significantly more annoying than coffee people, and I somehow found myself falling in with the tea drinkers at work, perhaps because in a coffee shop, drinking tea is the only way to rebel.

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Sadly, tea never offered the same kick as coffee did. Soon after leaving my barista job I found myself under the control of coffee once again, and there was no turning back. I am now a 24-year-old slave to the Java Monster, and he is a cruel tyrant. At this point, it's become such a problem that it's the first thing I think about when I wake up.

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I am by no means a coffee snob. I'll drink whatever dirty mudwater you sling my way, but I have settled into my own little routine. When I'm away from Portland, the one thing I truly miss is the coffee shop across the street from my apartment building. Nobody else seems to make my cup quite right, and there's one barista in particular that brews it exquisitely. There's something a little ...off about her, something I can't quite put my finger on. My roommate once told me he's convinced she immigrated here from Cuivienén, which he subsequently informed me is the eastern land of Middle Earth where the elves originated. I then slapped him in the face and told him if he ever spoke Nerd to me again I'd put him in the ground.

That said, I think he might be right.

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I know brewing coffee isn't difficult per se, but the coffee I receive from her is always a cut above, and watching her work is a magical experience.

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I like to imagine Elf Barista received her magic powers a millenium ago, long before fair trade was an issue, when nobody knew the difference between Arabica and Robusta.

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I rarely stray from Elf Barista. I imagine most addicts find a dealer they like and then stick with them. Especially in Portland, where the coffee snobbery can be oppressive, I dare not deviate from what I know. I did so once, and the results were disastrous.

I found myself late for work one morning and stopped in one of those miniature hole-in-the-wall coffee joints. I was in a hurry, so without glancing at the menu I ordered the most harmless, universal drink I could think of.

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The barista was not having it.

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I haven't gone back there.

Begrudgingly, I've resolved myself to being a lifelong coffee drinker. I suppose at least part of it is mental, but if slurping down bitter brown sludge is what turns me into a productive member of society, then so be it. Miley Cyrus probably needs like 4 lines of coke just to get out bed every day, so it could be worse.

At least that's what I tell myself while I'm rubbing coffee grounds into my gums just to get a fix.

88 comments:

  1. You, sir, are fucking amazing.

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  2. If you go to New York City, get yourself to one of those coffee carts that sit on street corners. I'm telling you, best coffee you'll ever have. Nobody from Middle Earth serving you, but various, pleasant Middle Easterners in those little boxes.

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  3. P.S. "I then slapped him in the face and told him if he ever spoke Nerd to me again I'd put him in the ground." That made me pee my pants.

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  4. I understand exactly what you mean, and I love the way you worded it. I have turned into a coffee person this past year. If you are ever in Slovakia, you have to try the coffee in Piestany(:

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  5. When I was in high school my friends and I chewed coffee beans. I don't remember why, I just remember I quit because I almost lost a tooth once.

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  6. AMAZING. I know how you feel about cofee.

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  7. i am the same way about coffee, i am an evil human being liable to rip out throats left and right until i've had a cup in the morning.

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  8. as both a tea and coffee person, this post was perfection.

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  9. I love your drawings. You make me feel like an incredibly unaccomplished 24 year old. Thank you.

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  10. How would you feel about being the key note speaker at my graduation? haha. LOVE your blog. Keep up the amazing work :)

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  11. I'm in the middle of watching "Twin Peaks" on Netflix Streaming, so the headline grabbed my eye! I, too, am a slave to the demon Java.

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  12. I envy 15 year old you because I could never stay up later than 11 until I turned 17 because my mother was a goddamn nighthawk that would swoop and ruin any fun to be had. Even worse was the fact that my stomach can't handle coffee so I had to manually keep myself awake through spanish three and Probability.

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  13. I'll drink just about any mud water too. After 6 years in the Marine Corps, I'm not quite ashamed to admit that there's been more than a few times where I suspect I might have ingested motor oil that was mistakenly put into a coffee urn.


    But I savored those dregs...

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  14. Ashland OR, Case coffee, delicious.. It makes my day a little better everytime *sniff*

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  15. I love it! You just spoke to my coffee-fiending soul!

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  16. Your cartoons always delight and amuse me to the fullest.
    As a 24 year old barista and long time tea (and ex-coffee) fan, I really loved this one!!

    And it's true about not wanting coffee if you work with it every day. I kicked coffee last month and went back to tea :)

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  17. As a coffee/tea addict. I highly approve of this... not that I ever really disapprove of your stories... derp.

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  18. This post is also the story of my life. I cannot wake up without thinking that i need to have coffee intravenously injected into my veins.

    Thanks for the smiles

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  19. I am a slave to 7 11 coffee. So good! So cheap! No human interaction required!

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  20. I, too, have been lured into my campus's coffee shop because of an elf barista. Sadly, the overpriced drinks have driven me to become a broke college kid and can no longer afford to go there anymore. Damn you elf barista and your fantastic mochas.

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  21. Your tea people made me lol.

    I so enjoy this blog of yours!

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  22. Love, even though I am neither a coffee nor tea person and cannot relate. But it entertained me nonetheless, as always =]

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  23. Sadly, I'm stuck being one of those tea people. But I'm not fussy. No no. Make it strong, make it caffeinated, and don't give me any of that loose leaf bullshit that gets wedged in my teeth or creates an evil trap of leafy sludge at the bottom.

    That's how we do it in the Maritimes.

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  24. Haha, this was pretty funny! good work! ;)

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  25. I actually had a conversation with someone today about how decaf was a vile sin and had no place on this earth. Now I'm wondering how many people around us were going, "jeez, what a couple of insufferable douchebags!"

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  26. Anonymous said...
    When I was in high school my friends and I chewed coffee beans. I don't remember why, I just remember I quit because I almost lost a tooth once.


    I would like to high five this person for general awesomeness. Thanks for existing.

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  27. Come to Shockoe Espresso & Roastery in Richmond, VA and I'll make you half-elven coffee.. twice as tasty, half the calories.

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  28. Ever gone to a Terra Burger and ordered a chai latte with 1% milk?

    "Um...we don't have ONE PERCENT. We have non fat milk. Or you could just get SOY MILK."

    They are highly offended if you order anything other than soy milk. My question...why do they stock real milk if they don't want you to drink it? And excuse me, but I did NOT order attitude with my latte.

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  29. HAHAHAHA Oh. My. God. The last couple of frames are so familiar to me. In Chicago we're pretty tame, but there are places in the northern neighborhoods, and artsy Burroughs that look and act just like that Barista.

    As soon as I saw the flame come out of him I spit my iced coffee all over my desk.

    So... damn you. And thank you.

    Keep it up, son!

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  30. Dude, your,like, my idol. Its not much coming from a 14 year old chick who spent 2 years watchin Full House reruns and playing post apocalyptic warfare as a kid.But I love your blogs, and would love some tips for a blogging Newb. ^.^

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  31. I gave up coffee when I gave up working in a restaurant and found myself pregnant. I can't remember the early days well, I was too busy throwing up and passing out cold. Fun times.

    I do still have a soft spot in my heart for really good espresso, but I also have an addictive personality and I'm a bit loathe to get addicted to coffee again.

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  32. I love this post because it reminded me of my own love of tea/coffee! It would be fantastical to see one of the illustrations from this show up on one of your t shirts!

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  33. As a fellow coffee-addict, I can SO relate to this. Also, you HAVE to try well-made south Indian (filter) coffee. It's strong, dark and gorgeous! I don't know if you've ever seen a south Indian pour coffee. It's called metre coffee, because they can reach heights of upto a metre while pouring it from one tumbler to another (to cool it, and make it froth up).

    I could go on and on...love the post! (I think this calls for a large cup of coffee. Now.)

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  34. This was my favorite post yet! When I read some of your stuff (especially this one), I feel like I am looking at my own life, but it's somehow infinitely more entertaining. Keep up the good work!

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  35. I seriously love everything you write!

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  36. I just to think I drank good coffee...then I went to Columbia.
    It was heavenly. It turns out what we drink is what they throw away as garbage.
    Terrible thing is, you never forget the taste.

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  37. "Secondly, we we" - you might want to fix that. xD

    Awesome as always d00d.

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  38. Very very funny

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  39. uh oh... I have a virtual crush.
    Would I actually consider flying to Portland to hunt you down and force you to have a coffee with me?
    ... I live in Ireland... and I don't even like coffee!

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  40. You, Sir, are very, very funny. I want to be just like you when I grow up! Wait...you're younger than me...When I grow..down? Damnit. Way to ruin a comment, Cat!

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  41. You just made me incredibly afraid of becoming a coffee addicted haha! Just lmao'd with this post, your blog is amazing!

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  42. so i totally need a print of the frame where you jump out of bed yelling coffee, because it is totally how i am in the morning too. also, this made me laugh like an idiot in the break room on my lunch. my coworkers all wonder whats wrong with me now. i thank you good sir.
    ~*~

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  43. Ugh. I moved from Portland to London for a year, and I couldn't find a goddamn cup of drip coffee ANYWHERE! There is no coffee love there. None.

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  44. ... i wonder who you'll turn to next if Elf Barista ever finds something to do with that liberal arts degree she probably has

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  45. My coffee elf is the charming young man who operates the Starbucks between my dorm and my school. As a Seattle resident, I occasionally feel guilty for passing over trendier, independently-owned coffee joints which might be a more unique experience, but Starbucks is such a widespread corporation, it has given up all right to pretentiousness, so the baristas there are pretty chill. Also, it's seriously right next to my school. I can't overlook convenience when I barely have the energy to drag my ass out of bed every morning.

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  46. Amazing, I hope someday I discover the elf barista as I live in Portland!

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  47. Sir Digby Chicken CaeserApril 24, 2011 at 12:17 AM

    yea, coffee hippies are weird...nice post

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  48. Yep. Worst feeling in the world is waking up to realize I forgot to set the Magic Coffee Timer that ensures there is hot brew when I slink to the kitchen in the morning. And, like many other commenters, I am a big fan of the Americano.

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  49. You, sir, totally made my day (as you normally do). I hereby award you fifteen internets: ten for being awesome, and five to encourage you to keep writing the funniest stuff on the web.

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  50. I read this whilst knocking back my morning (scratch that, noon) coffee, and true, I feel a bit like a hipster because I put almond milk in it. I too also ordered an iced coffee at one of those pretentious hole-in-the-wall places because it was Tulsa's first warm day of spring, and the guy said "ooookay?" and sniffed at my seemingly n00b status. Everything's better with ice in it, let's be real.

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  51. Kudos again to you, sir. Another blog well done. Frankly the line about Miley Cyrus cracked my shit up. Though not a coffee drinker myself, I can relate on the tea level (though probably not exactly as yourself as I am from the South, and MY tea [meaning the only true way to be served] is iced and diabetic-coma-inducingly sweet).

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  52. Brilliant, as usual.

    <3

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  53. OMG I love you. Thank you for consuming 2 days of my time while I read your entire blog. Twice. Okay, but seriously, it's finals week and you are wasting my time. <3

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  54. As a tea snob, I laughed so hard at the grass clippings comment.

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  55. The same thing happened to me when I worked at a cafe. Suddenly, coffee was the most disgusting thing. For a year AFTER I quit the coffee shop, I still drank tea and only tea. Now, suddenly and viciously, I'm being sucked into the world of HOLYMOTHERFUCKINGCOFFEE again.

    I, however, am a total coffee snob...

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  56. oooh..i never eat tomatoes too....!!!..they're soo ew!:D

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  57. I've worked as a barista for four years...and I must admit, if you ask me for a frappuccino, there's a 95% chance I'll shiv you in the taint.

    I still love this post, though!

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  58. we have one of those places, they have mantid-like hipsters tapping on ipads in the window and signs everywhere saying how their coffee is made from spiderwebs and dreams, and how fairtrade is 'inferior coffee' and how they will stock iced coffee, soy milk, and decaf 'when hell freezes over!'

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  59. Don't you just LOVE those Portland coffee snobs? The majority of them (like the barista on the last few frames) are pompous, self-righteous assholes who are far too busy wrapped up in their own superiority to notice that THE REST OF THE WORLD DOESN'T CARE THAT FRAPPUCINOS ARE UNCOOL. But that's ok, I guess they need love too...? I totally get this though, being from Eugene, which is kinda like a mini-Portland.

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  60. The Miley Cirus part... I just cried af laughter xD

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  61. This may make you feel a bit more upbeat about coffee addiction. http://news.yahoo.com/s/hsn/20110517/hl_hsn/couldcoffeelowermensriskforprostatecancer

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  62. unlike everyone here i actually...dont like coffee

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  63. Adam, I used this post as a reference in my Marketing class. The grumpy barista part fit perfectly, and I think it livens everything else up. I hate the class but I love you; you make me laugh and inject a little joie de vivre into my otherwise mummified existence. God, school.

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  64. I burst out laughing after reading that you woke up, and that the first thing that entered your mind was coffee. AND then I saw the picture...I need a chiropractor from falling off my chair.

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  65. I just recently discovered your blog, and I am fairly certain that if I were to ever be stricken with amnesia, your blog would be one of those things that I hold on to, despite having forgotten everything else. I will have no idea who I am, where I came from, or what the internet is. But I will be like "I HAVE TO CHECK BOOKS OF ADAM FOR A NEW POST."

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  66. I recently stumbled upon your blog, and I'm in love! I just want to start off with how relate-able you are! I've been working with a coffee company for over a year (none other than Starbucks) and I used to work at Dunkin Donuts (a trader I know...) but I just couldn't stand coffee for a long time. All I could stomach was tea. Making lattes and brewing coffee every 8 minutes kind of pushed me away. But now, I'm a miserable lump without a coffee every morning. Funny stuff man, I'm totally addicted!

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  67. Yeah, I actually worked at a place like that in Chapel Hill; there are certainly nicer ways to tell people that you don't serve iced coffee... I was always really nice about it. Then again, those barista coworkers of mine were so hipster awesome that they drink a type of coffee that you've probably never heard of because it's so obscure, so that's why they don't serve iced coffee. :-/

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  68. Hey, I follow your blog quite regularly. I'm from India. I LOVE the way you write about stuff and show it too! The coffee post just totally had me. Awesome work!!!

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  69. Now, just a minute, young man--that was no midlife crisis that led to that boat. No sir. Nothing but ordinary greed and financial irresponsibility. I'm planning a midlife crisis for next week some time. AND that boat was never in the LAWNMOWER SHED that became your party den! Let's get the facts straight, shall we?

    Great, amazing stuff, Adam. I'm bummed I took so long to read it, and I'll keep up from here. Quite happily.

    I think (being a complete idjit at the whole blog thing) that Google is going to list me as "Xeric" or some such miscellaneous screen name, and so I'll make perfect clear that I AM the former stepfather!

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  70. you said 'we' twice.

    in the unawesome barista thingymajingy.

    YEAH I'M A FUCKING GRAMMAR NAZIIII

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  71. Oh man! please make "coffeaddict04" into a t-shirt!!!!

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  72. Oh man! please make "coffeaddict04" into a t-shirt!!!!

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  73. have you ever thought of just brewing your own??

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  74. A nightmare about Gremlins in English class! Hilarious! You reminded me of an incident in my freshman English class. It was finals time, and everyone was working hard on their essay on the topic: who was the true evil in Jurassic Park? Everyone else was, anyway. I wrote "Humans are the true evil, playing God is wrong"(I got an F). After this simple sentence, I put my head down on my desk to sleep for the rest of class. Five minutes before class was over, I woke up to the teacher saying, "will someone please wake up Erika and tell her to stop snoring?"

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  75. Who wants a stylus. You have to get em and put em away, and you lose em. Yuck. Nobody wants a stylus.

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