Give me my damn Philz

I’ve recently discovered my new coffee haven: Philz Coffee, only available in California, Chicago, and Washington DC. Truly, sitting in this coffee shop sipping a $5 small iced coffee with a creamy pink foam top brought a new definition of productivity for me.

I’ve also discovered the “nappuccino”, coined by Clara Spars, Beijing NSLI-Y alumni and Stanford badass extraordinaire. To achieve godly levels of productivity (aka success in today’s rippling, fast-paced society oh gosh), one must first drink a coffee and then take a 20-30 minute “power nap” while the caffeine kicks in. Our anxious, sleep-deprived selves will then level up, achieving our final form, our super-Saiyan mode—Goku hair and all—typing out essays and applications galore until the drugs wear off and we’re back to our worn-out selves.

I complain about being tired. A lot. Is it because my messed up sleep schedule? My reluctance to work out? (I’ve been making excuses for the past 9 months and my Chinese relatives are going to comment.) My disinclination to chill out and meditate? My tendency towards the instant feel-good over the delayed gratification of a healthy lifestyle? My phone and its retina-scorching blue light?

Maybe I should get off the Internet and listen to my thoughts more. Sure, the quiet hum of a café in the middle of the affluent suburbs of DC is alluring and gives me the opportunity to fake productivity, but I think a lot more of my inner turmoil, and yes, even my ever-present exhaustion might be best addressed by simply sitting in silence.

Even drinking coffee itself—a habit I started seriously picking up when I started pulling cappuccinos at the Glenstone Patio—evokes a sense of “grown-up-ness”. My mom pointed this out a couple of days ago, teasing me as I was buzzing from the caffeine.

“Mei, drinking coffee must make you feel really grown-up, huh.”

“What? Mom, stop.”

I was evidently ticked off by her condescending tone—I’ve spent my whole life trying to appear older than I am. She went on to explain herself though I already knew exactly what she meant: 10-year-old Mei ordered strawberry Frappuccinos topped off with whipped cream and syrupy drizzle from Starbucks—more dessert than coffee. In the mornings before school, I would sneakily sip the remaining coffee swishing at the bottom of Pa’s coffee pot, just to see what the hype was all about. Funny enough, I did the same with his post-dinner beer and mom’s red wine. It was gross. So why did I do it? Childish curiosity, for sure, but perhaps also subconsciously to see if it would or could make me instantly more mature.

Now, I think I’ve finally got to the point where I am content with my age, mentally and physically. Not quite old enough to drink legally, yet not so young to be denied most experiences. Flying alone no longer feels like some grand adventure, it’s just transportation. I am now called “ma’am”, not “miss”, but I don’t carry the burdens of taxes and bills—thanks Pa.

So for now, I’ll stick with my iced Mint Mojitos, typing away at these stories in the struggle for self-discovery. I’m not quite grown up yet—just give me my damn Philz.

Mei is currently in Japan (hello from a bullet train on its way to Kyoto!) and wrote this on the plane. Happy early 4th!


  1. I am totally amazed how in the world you have gotten the time to write this blog! Perhaps, you are trying to keep your English going while surrounded by Japanese? Not bad a strategy, smart girl!

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