My mood is on her fingertips and toes this morning. Her thighs are weak so she looks funny being on all four, but she is walking slowly enough so as to make the rest of us not notice her.
The floor has grit from the furry creatures who traipse in and out, enjoying and at the same time ignoring the effect of the grime that they bring in from the outside which has been plastered with mud from the shitty weather. My accompanist, my mood, she feels all of the strands of fur from that Golden Retriever and wonders if there will ever be cleanliness. She knows that I will always insist on dogs being fully in my life even if it means I live in a shack. She contemplates the effort to clean and the likelihood of the smooth surfaces lasting longer than a few hours. She longs to provide me with inspiration to do more to keep a clean house.
Next, of course, her thoughts slide to the ever-depressing pile of papers which have little but the most chaotic of organization. She scolds me and tells me that I am a beast. I am longing for my coffee and not in the mood to argue. There are millions of pieces of paper. I am a pack rat of the worst sort. I have a terrible time throwing things away, and my mood reminds me that I am a complete idiot. She tells me that I have never regretted throwing a single thing in the trash.
I agree with her as I stare at a coffee pot that seems to be amazed at its own stamina. Yes, sandy deposits from the city water which comes from one of the ugliest rivers you have seen. I know that the glass decanter shows evidence of heavy use between washings, and my mood pounces on me before I can lift the lid over the basket which is not very good at holding all of the grounds in. I think, don’t I deserve a new coffee pot as my sweet, grungy mood tells me what a loser I am and tells me that despite my hurry, it’d be best to get to cleaning the pot.
I agreed about no regret on the trash, but I insist that I cannot bend to every whim of the ballerina on all four. (Why does she refuse to get her ass up off the floor?) This is how my days go, and I have not made my coffee yet – I fight this battle with my mood for the entire day. I’d agree with her, in the art of surrender, with the hope that by losing I could win, but both she and I know that I will hang myself from a sturdy oak if I surrender to her incessant pounding of tambourines and bass drums and the vomit of the beige blaring of red trumpets in the cavity below my top rib that seems to be empty. She constantly gashes me with those fingers and those toes that are currently exploring the grit from the dogs. She knows that I have received a gift, and she knows that the gift recipient has no right to destroy the gift. I moralize with her and I treat her and I swamp her with the finest of all medicines, the ones that the finest of all psychologists promises me has been effective, at least in about 15% of the cases like mine. I ask her, my psychologist, what kind of science is that? How do these people take themselves seriously? I want to be fixed thirty years ago, but instead I have this nerve-wracking monster, tapping her fingers and her black toes on my forehead until it feels as if it might explode and leak the brains to the floor.
She’s still on all fours. There is a sudden break in the action, her action that is because I am too tired to have any action, so I take the opportunity to indiscriminately pour finely-ground coffee from the bag into the new filter that seems off-balance in the basket. My blessed mood pokes me and tells me that surely I will have grounds in the coffee, but I tell her that she needs to quiet down until the day is ready to be started. She squeals about how the coffee company really fouled up its brand by creating a numbered system for coffee flavors, from Number One for weak-kneed, tea drinkers who are over the age of 90 to Number Five for people who need a real jack of life (people intensely like me). We miss the regular old French Roast that was cheap but was the best French Roast you ever tasted and not too bitter for mornings, but I tell her again, shut your trap. There is nothing to complain about, is there? I pour the fresh water into the coffee pot’s reservoir and she pipes up again. I cannot have a split moment, and she tells me that the water is brown. I say it’s not, but she reminds me that I am not as observant as she is.
I’d hate to call my mood a bitch because she is a delicate ballerina, but damn, she has those black claws for toes and then those wicked, spindly fingers which love to provide all of the physical pain I can handle while her mushy heart and liver screw with my brain.
The pot, having been on for 22 seconds, has built up an ounce or two of new coffee, and finally, my mood agrees with me: We love the smell and we are anxious, both of us on our toes, waiting for that first cup of the morning while we search through the cabinet for my medicine. Yes, she tells me I am the same as a dirty brown rat for the way my medicine cabinet is all unorganized with things stacked on top of each other haphazardly and with things that have not been touched in years but have not been thrown out. I tell her I have already agreed that I am too resistant to throwing things out and I add that I am willing to try. I am going to try really hard. She nods as if she might just believe me despite her knack for distrusting everything about me. We watch the coffee drip and there is a brief, very brief, moment of contentment. She smiles, showing her teeth that look like Cottonwood trees.
#1 by Raven on January 20, 2011 - 8:51 am
I read the whole thing…without stopping. And even with two cups of coffee and I write a proper compliment. But then I think I’ve been imbibing to much coffee. The caffeine plays tricks on my already unstable system and I need some sleep.
Enjoyed it. Understood it.
#2 by Carl on January 20, 2011 - 8:24 pm
Thanks for commenting! Coffee may be a miracle, but apparently, I need a bigger miracle.
#3 by Raven on January 20, 2011 - 8:52 am
Crap…can’t even write a sentence that makes sense. ‘Even with two cups of coffee I can not write a proper comment.’
#4 by Carl on January 20, 2011 - 8:25 pm
Two cups is never enough! Shall I ship you some coffee?
#5 by Sirenum Scopuli on January 20, 2011 - 7:05 pm
This was brilliant, Carl. Really good writing. You’re getting better and better at story-telling. Keep going!
#6 by Carl on January 20, 2011 - 8:28 pm
From a super good writer, that is very flattering! I appreciate your kind words and you have warmed my heart! Kind words do have a way of keeping me going.
#7 by Carl on January 20, 2011 - 8:30 pm
But brilliant? 🙂
#8 by Sirenum Scopuli on January 20, 2011 - 10:03 pm
Yes, brilliant. The narrative is excellent. It draws me in and keeps me reading. The last two stories that you’ve written — the one about McDonald’s, and this one, were great. Not clumsy or awkward at all. You’re really developing a style, and it’s good.
#9 by Evelyn on January 21, 2011 - 9:07 pm
Carl. My friend.
This is fucking AMAZING.
brilliant is the exact write word.
its very lean and clean.
I heart coffee…
#10 by Carl on January 21, 2011 - 9:36 pm
You, Evelyn, my friend, are far too kind, but I do appreciate your words of encouragement. It means more than you’ll ever know.
Coffee is a mandatory love for some of us with unusual or missing sleep patterns! 😉
#11 by Evelyn on January 23, 2011 - 7:49 pm
The only accepted addiction…
#12 by Carl on January 23, 2011 - 8:37 pm
Yes, depending upon whether you count jogging as an addiction, not that I would adopt that one.
#13 by Marian on January 22, 2011 - 9:54 am
i agree, this is so beautifully and seamlessly written, carl. i love it. and i am so much not a dog person, either. but i am right there with you when i read it and waiting for that cup with you.
#14 by Carl on January 22, 2011 - 11:04 pm
Thank you so much, Marian. I appreciate your kindness. I might be able to live without my coffee, but I am pretty sure I would not be alive without my dogs. They save me all of the time.