Babies, Brewing and Bedtime

March 1, 2010 at 7:32 pm 1 comment

We had visitors on Saturday, Fischer and Nell (and mama Carolyn), who were born just one week earlier than our boys (and can already walk, run, parse complex sentences, and almost but not quite drive standard shift – it’s okay, we’re not panicked). There are times – such as when you find yourself watching five 15-month-olds scamper about your living room in gleeful parallel play – when you think, I must be living someone else’s life. This is not my beautiful house. These are not my beautiful clones. And then you have another cup of Joe.

Coffee. We are now officially dependent in this household. Over the past week each of us, us being Big Al and myself, have had incidents that proved this. Some recent Wednesday, might have been the last, we were out of coffee and I just didn’t have time to stop at Mocha Joe’s, and then at 12 noon I had the familiar pounding headclanks, the slow, creeping misanthropy, the ennui, the self-loathing. Withdrawal. I got a fix but quick, and the problem subsided, and you’d think as a result I could diagnose the same malady in my beloved, but no.

We are not lifelong coffee addicts. For years I was an off again on again type, proud of my ambivalence toward the black stuff, proud of my frequent coffee vacays, sometimes extending as long as ten months. But now I’ve gone and bought an elite stainless french press, and I’ve learned a new secret art from Orin: when the water first hits the press over the freshly ground clunky black sand, stir forcefully with a wooden spoon, like a witch over a cauldron, singing forth guttural sub-verbal incantations. It has become the morning prayer, the grinding, the boiling, the sweating and stirring, the waiting, the pressing, the pouring, the inhaling, the imbibing. My dreams are coffee filtered, I overpay wildly for the sleekest, most aromatic beans in the plainest, hippest brown bag. I drink morning and night, and as the weeks progress I up the octane. Soon my coffee will be like a fine chocolate mousse – a spoon will stand straight up in it.

So when we ran out of coffee or just didn’t have time to brew – I can’t remember – for a few days, I supplemented at Mocha Joe’s, or Java Jeter’s, or Coffee Kermit, but Big Al just went about her business herding clones. And then suddenly she was besieged, and for days upon days, by a grippingly intense “migraine.” She could not stand up, she could scarcely lift our miniature musclemen. We went through several diagnoses (with MRIs and Cat Scans pending) before I diagnosed the problem as Absence of Poison. You’re almost out the other side, I coached Big Al, one more day of this and demon kaffa is behind you. But Al, having not intended to quit in the first place, saw no moral victory awaiting, and opted instead for the Marakesh Express. Gradually the  veil of blackness lifted, our home life was resuscitated , our addictions restored.

And so now I’ll say a final word on sleep. Our boys are good sleepers, in part – I think – because of Big Al’s Weisbluth-infused sleep rituals. We signal bedtime in many ways, including the reading of stories, the donning of sleepsacks, the playing of music, a prolonged hug for each mousekateer, and a gentle descent into softness. For a while I was pretty suspicious of Good Night Moon – that perennial classic that neither Al nor I grew up with somehow. But seeing as we received at least six copies of it in various shapes and sizes from loved ones, we’ve gradually come around to it, to the point that the giant Lap edition of it has worked its way into our sacred nightly ritual. After the boys are all sacked up, we place them in the center crib (Pablo’s), and read them Good Night Moon, while they point and laugh and wrestle and yawn. The purpose of my writing now is that I’ve found a really choice musical pairing (which has also worked its way into the liturgy). It’s the Lento movement (#3) from Beethoven’s string quartet opus 135, one of the last pieces he ever wrote. It is music so profound, and yet so soft and sweet, by a composer who had come to terms with the emergence of that good, dark night. The music sets a rather deep, thoughtful tone – it is not light, airy, or infused with new age goodness (though I confess, when we finally put them down it’s to Bobby McFerrin, George Winston, and then yours truly), and it imbues the Good Night Mooniverse with a profundity it may not always enjoy. The quiet old woman whispering hush is a ghost of the ages, the spirit of yesterday, the siren of tomorrow. It’s an intense nightly ritual to be sure, but I think the Collective absorbs it well, and they rarely struggle against their own good night thereafter.

And then it’s just twelve or so hours until COFFEE.


Entry filed under: update. Tags: , , , , .

Dracula Dazed and confused

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Nina  |  March 1, 2010 at 9:18 pm

    Best tribute to/condemnation of coffee I’ve seen. Creeping misanthropy — so true! Not bad on Beethoven either. When’d you get so smart? And when can we come sample some o’ that French Press witches’ brew? Hugs & mugs all around. xoxo Nina


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