clinging coffee buzz
Monday, November 7 2011
A short way into the afternoon, I prepared and drank a quart of Ethiopian fair trade coffee from my French press. The plan is always to direct the resulting frenetic energy into something non-procastinatory, but it was such a warm and beautiful day that I just had to go outside and, well, work with shit. I'd taken the last shit bucket out of the brownhouse back in September and it had seven months' worth of humanure in it. Fecal matter doesn't compost very well in the bucket, so today I wanted to distribute some of it into other places. The brownhouse drum composter had gone unused for months, so I scooped ten or twenty gallons of shit into it using a four-pronged garden fork. Then I packed the rest of the composter's volume with pine needles (which, at this time of year, are easy to collect in the ditches on either side of Dug Hill Road). Finally I packed the rest of the shit can's 30 gallon volume with pine needles in hopes that it would absorb some of the moisture.
I've had some older humanure composting in a large flimsy "bin" composter I'd bought from Home Depot. By this point the newest of that was nearly a year old, and it had turned to an appealingly non-shitlike black color (and all the snakes and other creep crawlies had moved out). So I gathered it all up in buckets (it came to about 20 gallons) and put it in our vegetable garden near the house. Unfortunately, there were still pockets of incompletely-composted material in the mix, which I buried under six or eight inches of soil.
In the evening, Gretchen took note of my restless, unsettled spirit and suggested we drive down to New Paltz to patronize a new shop down there which purports to sell homemade tempeh. So that was how we spent our evening. On the drive down, though, my caffeine buzz started making me feel so uncomfortable that I considered stopping and having Gretchen take over. On the one hand I felt like I was going to explode somehow, but on the other I felt very serene and in control. The tempeh, by the way, is actually made from rice and chick peas.
Gretchen and I walked up and down the main drag of New Paltz to find a restaurant suited to our mood. My only requirement was "nothing Asian," but this soon metasticized into "nothing Asian or Italian." What I really wanted was a veggie burger and fries. Some restaurants were full and others empty. When one sees such a phenomenon, it's best to avoid the empty places. We ended up at P & G, which is a big sprawling warm-wooded old-school tavern where the food is greasy and the prices are cheap. Gretchen and I used to go there all the time when we'd visit friends in New Paltz, and I probably also went there when I visited New Paltz solo back in 1989. There was 25 minute wait, so we sat at the bar, an eroded slab of wood. Gretchen had a shot of Jameson (the pour was surprisingly big) and I had a pint of the only IPA on tap: Long Hammer. Though better from the tap than from the bottle, it's a mediocre-to-poor IPA, but one doesn't expect an old school place like P & G to stay current with trends in beer. The beer immediately dulled away all the worst effects from my excessive seven-hour-old caffeine buzz.
The most touching thing we witneesed at P & G was the indulgence being paid to their drunks. To our left at the bar were two weather-beaten alcoholics, one of whom said he'd been drinking there since noon. I later told Gretchen that his face looked as if one of his odd jobs (and surely all his jobs are odd) was as a pothole filler (not the guy who uses a tool and other materials to fill a pot hole, but as the temporary filler material itself). They were loud and their gestures were expansive, but the waitress was nothing but kind and a little bit flirty with them, making sure they never ran out of booze.
When we finally got a table, we ordered veggie burgers and fries, though instead of regular potato fries, I tried one of the house specialties: eggplant fries with marinara dip. They were good, but not mind-blowing.
Back home, I could feel the caffeine in my system rising up once more, first to make me feel pleasantly serene and then, little by little, miserable. This time, though, one of the effects was to make me not want to drink alcohol, the only cure. By the time I went to bed I kept feeling like I was about to die. The only way to get to sleep was to take a half dose of ambien.
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