Archives for posts with tag: I’ll have a latte

This is a story about coffee – sort of. 😉

It’s a metaphor.

Small things sometimes stall me. I know I can, I have the experience, but lacking a clear recollection, I hesitate, stymied by nothing more than my lack of clear recollection. Hesitation becomes fear becomes inaction. It’s a thing. Today, it’s a thing about coffee. lol

At some point, living at #59 (my previous apartment), my Traveling Partner left some of his things with me, and one of those items was his espresso machine. Nice one. Too big for my space, so it was being stored in a closet. I have considerably more counter space in the kitchen, here in The House Where I Live (so much more delightful, it gets named instead of a number). I put the espresso machine on the counter, when I moved in, and have since sort of just… kept it clean, and “worked around it”. I hadn’t turned it on, or made use of it at all. Nothing stopping me but fear.

The fear started off simply enough; it isn’t actually my espresso machine and I didn’t want to “break it” (which, realistically, should not be such an easy thing to do, considering what it is built for). I put off re-reading the manual, or looking at a YouTube video for days. Well… for 60 days, actually. I smile realizing I’ve been here just two months (a whole two months!). Over the past 60 days, that hesitation to act became insecurity about acting, reluctance to follow through, and finally just a straight up failure to act that was at risk of persisting indefinitely, with the final result that I would have a rather large fancy paperweight on my kitchen counter serving no purpose. Silly.

I put “reboot espresso machine” on my to-do list days ago. I ignored that for a while, fearfully. This weekend, however, has been all about being present, being at home, and working down the list of tasks I had in front of me, many of which fell into this same “tread carefully” category of odds and ends I felt uncomfortable with. Like the sub-woofer. Like the espresso machine. So, yesterday I read the manual. I watched a manufacturer-sponsored video on using the machine. I bought almond milk made specifically for making espresso beverages (different texture than the usual sort). I had already emailed customer support and specifically inquired whether there would be gaskets needing to be replaced after 2 years in storage (there are not, they said). Finally – verb time. I filled the machine with water. Turned it on. Ran some out as hot water. Ran some out as steam. Checked the settings on each feature… and by the time I’d done all those things, it was much too late in the day for strong coffee, and I’d run out of courage. lol I talked myself out of making a coffee, and put that off for the morning.

I woke peculiarly early today. Like… seriously. 2:51 am. Somehow, I managed to be so entirely awake that getting up to pee did not naturally result in going back to bed, and I got up. Fuck it. It’s almost 3:00 am, and 3:00 am is “almost 4”, which is only half an hour from when the alarm would go off, so… Right. I’m up. Coffee time!

I hesitated, again, as I stood in front of the espresso machine, watching it heat up. My eye slid to the right; I could make a pour over… Then I glanced left; a cup of coffee made in the Keurig is drinkable, quiet, and efficient… I recalled the video, which had reminded me how easy it is to use this espresso machine (a semi-automatic), even first thing in the morning. I recalled how many times I have actually made coffee using this very same espresso machine, when it sat upon the counter in my ex’s house, where we all lived together. As the machine continued to heat, I recalled, too, that my Traveling Partner and I intend each other nothing but love, and share everything we have with great joy; there isn’t really any chance that I would willfully damage his espresso machine, nor is there any realistic chance that he would take it badly if something were to go wrong and it got damaged without ill intent. So… what’s the hold up? Well, at that point, just waiting for water to heat up. 🙂

The beans were fresh. The grind may need some adjustment, but that’s fun for another day, preferably a day with plenty of time in it for drinking coffee. lol The puck was quite perfect, the smell of freshly ground coffee was enticing. The shot I pulled wasn’t my best – perhaps in another lifetime, I’d have poured it out and used the opportunity to begin again. At 3:15 am on a Monday morning, I found I was just as content to let it be, and embrace imperfection – and coffee. 🙂 I steamed the milk, enjoying the ease of it far too much for the simple process it is, as enthusiastic as a toddler turned loose in the toy aisle.  I took that first sip, of that first latte made by my hand in my own home in a bit more than 2 years (has it only been such a short time?). It was warm, and tasty, and seemed to me in that moment to be quite perfect – even as I recognized opportunities to improve my craft. There was no room for criticism in that moment; it was enough to be drinking a latte I made for myself. 🙂

Contentment is something I have found I can build. I can craft it from fairly simple ingredients; moments that are enough, small successes, and letting go of attachment to outcomes and expectations. Finding that I can build contentment, and sustain it, has resulted in so many lovely moments – even actual genuinely happy ones that linger in memory and sustain me through tougher times. It’s nice. It’s a process. There are verbs involved. My results vary. Sometimes… yeah, I’m so human, sometimes I have to overcome my fears. Incremental change over time requires practice. 🙂 We become what we practice.

I smile at the clock and sip my latte. I have plenty of time to begin again. 🙂

There’s this guy…

…Oh, hey, some ground rules, first. I’m pretty human and I have my share of petty moments; it matters to me to be compassionate, to be aware that we are each having our own experience, and to do my best to be non-judgmental. I see human behavior. Being human, myself, I have some. I don’t always understand it, and liking words I often want to describe it. Today, too. So, this one is more a character study than a judgement, and I’ll do my best to attend to my phrasing. 🙂

Each of us is having our own experience.

Each of us is having our own experience.

There’s this guy I see regularly on my commute to work, in the morning. I usually see him near the coffee stand. Days when I see him, I’m struck by how much I want to ‘type-cast’ him. He has a very ‘East Coast vibe’. He also strikes me as the essence of The Perfectly Miserable Man. I feel a bit sad for him, generally, because on any given day he seems stressed to the breaking point, and entirely and completely miserable. He also conveys some other things through his discontent tone. He seems angry, disagreeable, and entitled. I wonder each time I see him what it is about life that sucks so much for him that he finds the will to be that miserable.

I’m not being mean. A day or two ago, I walked up to the coffee stand, and gave the gentleman who runs it my order, a latte. Between my words, and the barista’s reply, The Perfectly Miserable Man rushed up, inserted himself physically between me, and the counter, and barked at the barista “Do you have half and half?”. It was obvious the barista was as startled as I was, and didn’t quite hear what this other potential customer had said. He replied, courteously enough, “I’m sorry?”  The Perfectly Miserable Man doesn’t have time for polite trivialities, and went on a tirade about the intelligence of the barista, his honesty, his work skills, then turned attention to the sorry state of the world, and his own misery that he could be treated so badly by one and all. It was damned eloquent. Part of me also found it… hilarious. It was illuminating. I could see The Perfectly Miserable Man building his exquisite misery in front of me, a word at a time. Escalating emotionally in the absence of any stimulus outside his own creation – highly efficient. Sad, too, because he could choose differently, and have a very different experience.

Once the barista understood that The Perfectly Miserable Man was asking for free half and half for coffee he hadn’t purchased there – actually, he hadn’t purchased anything on that day – the barista politely, and rather graciously, apologized that he didn’t have the stock on hand to give away half and half.  The Perfectly Miserable Man wasn’t satisfied with that and flung more than offered a dollar for some half and half. The barista asked how much he wanted, still being polite, and when The Perfectly Miserable Man indicated about a tablespoon, the barista handed over the carafe of half and half.

The story doesn’t really end there. I might not have been sitting around mulling this over if it had. The Perfectly Miserable Man accepted the half and half, managing to be rude, dismissive, and confrontational about it. Then he poured about 6 ounces of half and half into an empty cup, and put it into his lunch box, for later. He crossly muttered the entire time about the service, the cream, the day, having to pay for cream as a customer, the weather, the timing of the bus, and quite a few other things it never occurred to me qualified as complaints. He doesn’t mutter quietly, either. His words are obviously intended to be heard – and any overt recognition, eye contact, change of expression, is likely to result in a more directed bit of misery. He is so completely miserable.

I don’t actually get it, and I’ve started to look for him on the way to work. Some qualities and characteristics can be difficult to study, to understand, because subtleties require some prerequisite knowledge. I’ve certainly been miserable. I’ve grown to understand how much choice is involved in that.  Growing further, and learning to make different choices and not live an experience steeped in misery is worth doing. The Perfectly Miserable Man gives me some interesting life curriculum – he works really hard at misery, and is clearly very successful at it. I don’t need to know why to appreciate the rare opportunity to see it, study it. Seriously? This guy’s misery is on a level of real craftsmanship! Without fail, every time I see him on the way to work, he is miserable, and acting on it with his will, and demonstrating it for his community… I wonder each morning that I don’t see him, if perhaps I can’t recognize him if he isn’t miserable, and I overlook him when he’s having a good day? lol.

Not judging; it sucks to see him suffer, and I want to share that it doesn’t have to be that way.  I also recognize that he’s his own being, on his own path. He gets to make his own choices. I hope he gets some good days. I appreciate that his misery is a powerful demonstration I can study from afar.

I’ve been miserable. I don’t like the feelings that are part of misery. When I am not miserable, I can see quite clearly how much will and choice go into maintaining misery. When I feel miserable, I find it very hard to make choices that free me, even when I can clearly see it is a matter of choice. Misery is some nasty shit. I definitely want to learn the skills, and build my will, to improve my ability to be resilient in the face of moments of misery. It doesn’t look like The Perfectly Miserable Man enjoys life.