Today I restocked on my coffee. This may sound mundane, but it is fact momentous, and meaningful. You see, when I met Vincent in the end of March 1989, he was a barista at Café de la Artiste. A cute little café, before there were Starbucks. The kind that is full of mismatched old furniture and a small table in the back with a drawer full of notes New Yorkers have left for each other. When I first met Vincent, he was a barista.
I have many idiosyncrasies – I prefer my fruit green, my crackers stale, and my drinks cold – especially coffee. (Also, red wine, but some of you know that.) When we moved from NYC to Montreal in Chapter 1, not only were iced lattes hard to find, ice was hard to find. For future reference if you haven’t been, outside of America ice is not offered in drinks. Now, my grandfather would appreciate this – when we would go out for our Sunday dinners at Golden Corral and the waitress would serve us our drinks, beware if there was a cube in his Pepsi. He considered that cheating him out of the full volume of the drink he’d paid for. I’m not sure if it’s the same logic in Europe, or simply they enjoy the full-bodied experience of drinks without dilution, but the effect is the same. It’s difficult to get anything with ice. Nowadays when I travel out of the country, I bring my own ice trays!
But I digress. With the ubiquity of Starbucks, I had developed a very expensive habit of daily iced lattes. So my barista husband bought himself an espresso maker and coffee grinder and set out to make me my cold coffee every day of the week. This has become a routine in our Kalamazoo home. Each Sunday I would make some fancy dish to last for a week of lunches or dinners and Vincent would fill an empty milk jug with cold coffee that he brewed, four ounces at a time, for my habit. Over the years he has offered continually to teach me how to do it, but I have refused. It is what couples do for each other. I don’t need him to make coffee for me, but I like that he does it for me. Faithfully. But now, with the move to NYC, he bought me my own grinder and machine. He taught me how to use them on Saturday and I have made my milk jug full. And it’s a tremendous change.
Couples do for each other. Little things. I take care of the banking and he still asks me for the balance rather than the login. That’s okay, I can do that from here. But the coffee is important. Even though I’m completing the actions, I feel his presence beside me. So, my husband is a barista.
Back to NYC! I have my alarm set for 9:00am, but I usually wake up at 6:00 to check that I don’t have any e-mails calling me in for a temp job. (That’s how they used to do it, I have no idea if they still do.) One staffing agencies has invited me in tomorrow at 2:00pm to meet her partner and discuss options. I hope this is progress. I asked if I should wear the full suit to impress and she thankfully replied “No, it’s 1000 degrees outside!” Oh Thank God!
I looked at some jobs, sent out a few applications into the abyss. I no longer send them to indeed.com or glassdoor.com or those sites, but search out the ads on the company websites and do it that way. I don’t know if this makes a difference. Then I reconnoitered for the day’s quests. Item one: a lampshade – not terribly necessary but now I’m into the challenge; Item 2: a wastebasket. Now that I have my desk setup with mouse and keyboard, I want a place for paper trash, I don’t know why, it just completes me. Item 3: headset microphone. Vincent can’t seem to hear me on Skype, although I can hear him fine, so we’re going to try that tonight. I bought two kinds – one that’s for a desk setup and one for a cell phone – the latter because everyone is walking around talking into these little cords and I kinda want to be them. Item 4: still, some sort of lounge dress to hang out in.
Today I decided to stick on the bus routes so I could see things. From 145th down to 116th – Columbia University – street I went, scoping out old haunts. It’s amazing what’s still there and what I can’t remember. There’s a bright blue awning in blue and yellow with Vitamins on it that I remember. There’s Mondel’s Chocolates – a must visit if you haven’t. That one’s easy to miss, it’s very small and tucked between two louder stores, but I’m glad it’s still there, somewhere around 111th. As I walked toward downtown I saw “Nussbaum and Wus” and I got excited, remembering when that place opened and how we’d get our breakfast there, but no, when I got closer it was closed. Probably recently.
The French Roast is still there, the Korean place is still there. For a while I thought Tom’s Restaurant (of Seinfeld fame) had gone, but I found it. I got back on the bus and rode it to the 60s again. Then I walked downtown for a while. I was ostensibly shopping for microphones and I found the Best Buy. NYC discovery – horizontal space is so expensive, and apparently vertical above ground is too, so these big buildings have gone down. Trader Joe’s was like that yesterday and today it was Best Buy. Escalators going down down down. I bought the stuff I needed than decided to walk uptown for a bit. I’m still doing the smiling and recognizing thing. Especially with the people I figure get ignored a lot in their jobs: cashiers, bus drivers, doormen, security guards. When they greet me I try to them a real response.
My routine has been to go somewhere, walk until my legs hurt and then make my way back. Today I got on and off the bus several times (thank God for the unlimited pass), exploring whatever caught my eye.
Did mention there’s a section of the street, on my way to the subway on Broadway that is all families outside porching? There are no porches, but that doesn’t stop them. They are in camp chairs, all ages, but many elderly. I walked by them on my way out today and nodded and said hi, as I went. It was around 4:00pm. It’s just between Amsterdam and Broadway on 144th. When I came back it was almost crowded with people, eating, talking, enjoying the evening. Some of the older ladies are just watching people pass. I said Hi to all of them. It’s a whole community and I wish I spoke Spanish. It made me think about how I didn’t smile and say hi when I was younger and I realized that sexuality has a lot to do with it. When I was in my 20s and walked around smiling there would always be a group of older men whispering “puta” as I passed. Now that I am beyond childbearing years, a smile has a different significance. It is not layered with sexual constructs.
Anyway, I went to Best Buy, then I walked back along Broadway and found myself at THE Bed Bath and Beyond – not the anemic copy of before. I went in and down, and there was everything I needed. Except lampshades. They’d recently stopped stocking them. Amazingly in the limited space, BBB can still be labyrinthian. I got quite lost, but in the end I found everything I needed. As I made it to checkout I could still carry everything – which is a rule of thumb to live by. Don’t use carts in a store, if you can’t carry it there, you can’t carry it home. The woman at checkout not only bagged my items in plastic, but bagged them into all sorts of shapes to make it easier to carry. She used plastic bags as handles, twist-ties, it was like making balloon animals. I felt guilty about the amount of plastic she used, but it sure was easier to carry.
I got back on the bus to make my way uptown. A woman I’m quite sure was older than me offered me her seat, which felt funny. Maybe she wasn’t. I’m feeling 30 right now, so my perception could be off. Maybe it was because I had so many bags. At another stop a short woman got on. She was in her sixties with a mis-portioned body. She stayed in the front and leaned against the front seat and I wondered why she didn’t sit fully. Then it came to me that if she did, her legs would be sticking out in front of her so she must go through public life like this. Choosing postures. Positions. But then, don’t we all?
I got off the bus one more time in search of a lounging dress. Chicos sent me to a lingerie place which had exactly what I wanted, long, light cotton dresses to sleep in – at $80 each. Um, no, I think I can find a street vendor that will do.
I made it back whole and have been writing this with a short break to Skype Vincent and the new headsets work! (Well, one does, one doesn’t, so I’m going to have to go back to Best Buy tomorrow.) It’s almost 10pm and I got around to checking my e-mail on the computer rather than my phone. My phone shows me my e-mails, and I have a new account just for the job hunt. The usual indeed job alerts were filling in. After talking to V I started to look at them and checked my junk e-mail. FUCK three e-mails form the staffing agent for which I have the most hopes. She’s got me an interview tomorrow morning at 9:30am. All three went to junk e-mail. I have sent her e-mails every week for three weeks. Why would it go to junk? I wrote her back an apology and thank god she called and talked to me. So, I have testing at a real law firm tomorrow morning and I’m off. Wish me luck!
And I will be wearing the suit.