Almost every afternoon around three o'clock, I found myself heading to the coffee machine in the office, where I prepared myself a cup of decaffeinated [insert brand name here] as a little "pick me up" before I soldiered through the rest of the work day.
I worried about many things as the coffee machine did its work, pushing a "flow count" through the coffee "pod" that I had placed in the holder: 1) would the door of the machine pop open, sending (decaffeinated) coffee flying everywhere, as it had done a few times in the past? 2) had I reached an age where decaffeinated coffee in the afternoon seemed like a luxurious treat? 3) why were some people in the office incapable of cleaning out the drain in the sink, even though there was a sign placed on the wall behind the sink explicitly asking them to do just that? As so often happens these days, particularly while reading about the cruel slaughter of endangered (or really any) animals, I felt like humanity was a very damaged proposition, and yet I could not deny being a member of this group. It was a fundamental dilemma of existence, obviously; how to reconcile a very logical hatred of the countless horrible things that people do to each other and to the planet with a desire (or need) to survive in these times with a sense of self-respect? Maybe decaffeinated coffee was the best compromise I could hope for, I thought, as I removed the mercifully finished (i.e., unexploded) cup from the machine and went to the window to look at the Empire State Building in the western sun.
Meanwhile, the Hudson River continued to flow toward the Atlantic Ocean; I wondered if it ever wanted a coffee break, and if so, whether it would prefer caffeinated. "Oh, nice to see you, Hudson River -- can I get you a cup of Sanka?" A plane flew north, following the path of the Hudson; I had taken this route in the past and the views were admittedly amazing. I imagined the people on board feeling a mix of anxiety, desire, and trepidation as they envisioned landing at LaGuardia (side note: how is it that the spell check for this program has "Luanda" but not "LaGuardia"?!?) and, soon after, negotiating the frenzied commute back to wherever they lived in the city. "I would like a cup of decaffeinated coffee, please." -- Elektra The weather was mild and clear this week, even though the newscasters were obsessed with the impending storm. 2015 is apparently the year that people will talk on the air about hoarding groceries because of a forecast of 2-3 inches of snow. It was impossible to deny the beauty of the morning light on my block, however, and the soothing quality of the long shadows. (Notwithstanding the potential of these same shadows to be frightening in the moonlight!) The snow arrived and I shoveled, which is required of property owners in the city. Obviously, as can be expected with all laws (and particularly those involving the cleaning of sink drains and the poaching of rhinoceros and elephants) not everyone complies. There have been times in my life when I haven't shoveled, but I have always been a compulsive drain cleaner, which did not make sharing an apartment in Brooklyn with appromixately 15 other people (as I did in my twenties) very easy, at least from a drain-cleaning perspective. (Financially, it was pretty great, as I only paid $200 for my room, keeping in mind it was more like a hallway, because people had to pass through it in order to get to the basement, where they lived.) I once yelled at one of my roommates for his failure to clean out the drain after he did the dishes; it didn't do anything of course. We are no longer friends, either, not even on FB, which sometimes strikes me as unfortunate; it's possible to be very good friends with people until you live with them, and learn about their drain-cleaning habits. There's a possibility, I realized, that he's writing a blog post at this exact moment describing a former roommate who sublimated his non-heterosexual desire by being obsessed with clean drains, as if a few scraps of food in the sink ever hurt anyone. He's probably writing this post from a hunting preserve in Africa, however, where he is relaxing after taking down an elephant, a lion, and a giraffe. Speaking of sublimating hon-heterosexual desire, I have strong opinions about fire escapes on the front of buildings; generally I think they are an architectural travesty and should be outlawed (the risk of death by fire notwithstanding), but today, as I had to admit, they looked pretty good with some snow on the steps. In the garden, the branches of the Norway spruce were waiting for me to shake off the snow, which I soon did, with the help of a broom. It was a small gesture, no doubt -- a decaffeinated activity -- but the tree felt better, and so did I.