What’s this nauseating feeling looming in the pit of my stomach? That time of the month? Or maybe I should just lay off the coffee.
Back in Manhattan, I used to live on that shit. Now, I limit myself to three cups a day. On a good day. Nights don’t count: Nights keep their own count.
Sometimes, I forget to eat, too — a habit of my student days that hasn’t dissipated despite the new habit, of my non-student days, for daily running whenever my anxiety strikes. Back in the student days, I could just call up a lover and get tangled up in that mess. Not now though. Now: I just run, for miles.
And, oh, I could run for miles, right now!
But first: Must have some coffee.
Or maybe I should lay off the coffee. I hear it invokes anxiety.
Anxiety. Ah, that. It looms in the pit of my stomach, and it’s sickening: this battle of mind over matter.
I lie down on the floor. I should meditate, I think; or count some fucking sheep. Whatever it takes to get rid of this anxiety thing, looming in the pit of my stomach.
And coffee: I should definitely lay off that shit.
There is some drilling happening somewhere in close proximity; and because it’s been hot enough this week to sleep with all the windows slid wide open (come on in, thieves and ghosts!), the sound has awoken me, long before I was ready to get up and do my thing again.
What IS my thing, by the way?
Well, it starts — with making coffee.
Which I do. I get up from the floor and stare at the drip.
“thinking, the courage it took to get out of bed each morning
to face the same things
over and over
Bukowski. That old, ugly dog was the bravest of them all, never whoring himself out to academia, yet always producing the words, despite being ridden with vices, not the least of each was the endless heartache of compassion. And he knew a thing or two about clocking-in every day, at some maddening day job for a number of decades, then over his unpublished papers, at night.
Because nights keep their own count. And days — are mostly spent with some nauseating anxiety looming in the pit of the stomach.
“and there is nothing
that will put a person
more in touch
with the realities
an 8 hour job.”
But he would do that, until the day job was no longer necessary — and the papers were finally published. And after that happened, did the nausea vamoose for good? Poof! Or did he continue drowning it in liquor, exhausting it on the tracks or in between the thighs of his lover-broads; then getting up for the grind all over again, in the morning?
I stare at the drip as if it’s going to give me some answers. It reminds me of sitting by the life-support machine and staring at a sack of some gooey, transparent liquid — but not transparent enough to give me some fucking answers.
The pot’s half full. I think I’m supposed to wait for the whole thing to finish, or it ruins it. It interrupts the process. Fuck it. I pour myself a cup — I interrupt — and take it back to the floor. I lie down.
Maybe I should count some fucking sheep, I think. Or get me some poetry. It has put me to sleep last night, with all the windows slid wide open. Because the fucking sheep refused to be counted, at night.
And because nights keep their own count.
I take a sip of coffee and close my eyes. Open them: The drilling has started up again. I haven’t even noticed the silence. I put down the pen, the Bukowski. Start listening to the drill.
It reminds me of my never made dental appointment for a check-up. A check-up? What the hell do I need a check-up for? Just to see how much damage life has done to my enamel — with all that coffee — the timid receptionist called Lisa quietly explains, in so many words. She is always kind, whimpering her messages into my answering machine like a cornered-in mouse.
Goodness. Thank goodness — for kindness.
I should meditate, I think, after all. I take a sip, close my eyes.
Whatever happened to that girl, I wonder, remembering a colleague gloriously succeeding somewhere in this town. I had known her for years by now, but haven’t seen her for half of those. We began to lose touch, two of my lovers ago, after a row of coffee dates were meant to be broken. Eventually, the colleague and I forgot whose turn it was to make plans for the next date, to choose the next coffee shop. It must be a self-protective thing with her, I realize. She is successful: It’s hard for her to relate.
Oh well, I think. I’ll just keep in touch by overhearing some good news, on her behalf; and keep drinking my coffee alone, outside of coffee shops.
But then, I bet she too gets up to the grind, every morning. She too must feel the looming nausea in the pit of her stomach until she forces herself to meditate.
Because after years and years of getting up to do my thing, I realize that it pretty much summons success.
Success is simply getting up again.
But then again, there must be more to it. Certainly, there must be more to life — than getting up.
I get up, take my coffee with me. The drilling has stopped. I stare outside through the windows slid wide open.
“I listen and the City of the Angels
listens: she’s had a hard row.”
I remember: I’ve got to start the work. Because isn’t it what I’ve gotten up for?
I pour myself another cup. I begin.
But what’s this nausea looming in the pit of my stomach?
“the impossibility of being human
all too human
in and out
out and in
these mad dogs of glory
moving this little bit of light toward
I take another sip. I continue.
The nausea begins to vamoose, giving room to the acidity of my coffee, incorrectly brewed; interrupted.