Wednesday, January 19, 2005

good coffee & vidi diem

Likely millions of people know more about coffee than I do, but there are a few things I know.

I like 100% Columbian, brewed medium-strong, with half-n-half or light cream, no sugar. I like the taste of coffee, but not the taste of bitter dregs that some people profess to adore. A good coffee can be brewed quite strong and still be delicious. A bad coffee brewed strong just tastes nasty.

Coffee away from home is a tricky thing. I've given up on supermarket coffees at home but will drink them when I'm visiting. I just pretend it's not coffee, rather, a "coffee-like beverage." Starbucks coffee -- all of it -- tastes burnt. It's over-roasted and over-rated, but I'll get a mocha there if I've stopped in with the kids for a snack. Border's Cafe Espresso makes a decent cup of coffee, and this is one of the primary reasons I favor Border's over Barnes & Noble. B&N cafes use Starbucks.

At restaurants, I've pretty much given up on ordering an after-dinner coffee in a place without an espresso machine. If I want straight-up coffee, I'll make it myself at home. It always tastes better.

It's obvious I'm a coffee snob. There is a scale of coffee-snobbery, though, and I think I'm somewhere in the middle. I'm not as much of a coffee-snob as one of my sisters-in-law, who has been known to drive 75 miles just to get her favorite blend. She travels with her own stovetop espresso maker. Compared to her, I'm a duffer, a complete hack in the coffee world. Alas, I have absolutely no "street cred" among the true coffee-snobs, because I only drink decaf. You don't want to even imagine what I'm like on caffeine (manic, much?). I can honestly say I drink decaf for medical reasons. I thank God for the existence of decaf.

Coffee has mysterious medicinal qualities, too. My two-day headache finally abated today, and I'm giving coffee some of the credit. It's one of the most pleasant ways to stay hydrated that I know. Yet another reason for me to drink up.

I have a (perhaps shocking) coffee routine. I brew two cups at night after putting the kids to bed. I drink one, then put the other one in the fridge to have in the morning. I know, I know, the horror! reheated coffee! Heh. The morning coffee tastes all the better for simply being there. Or maybe it tastes better because it's not competing with the bittersweet chocolate I'm usually eating with my evening coffee? I have no idea. But as good as this coffee is now -- and it's very good -- this morning's coffee, which I drank in the car on the way to the dermatologist's office, was even better.

Why that should be, I have a few guesses, but it doesn't really matter. I was very happy to have it then, and I'm happy to have it, now.


If you know you're going to die soon, the big thing is supposed to be carpe diem. When you're diagnosed with cancer, you more or less have to go through the lowered-life-expectancy experience, even if it's only from a "what if?" perspective. It gets you thinking along these lines: you don't want to die with regrets, do you?

For me, though, it's not about "seizing the day", but appreciating the things that make my days what they are. Right now the only thing I would change about my life is my health. Since I already "have it all" (including a normal life expectancy!), the only way I'll have regrets is if I allow something to slip by, unnoticed. So I'm trying to pay attention to these things that contribute so much to my existence: Vidi diem. See the day.(My Latin is nonexistant; I checked this out here.) There are a lot of different ways of seeing. What "vidi" connotes is not just seeing what's visible but also understanding what it is you see.

In my life there are hugely important things like my husband and my kids, and then there are small things, like good coffee. And there are a million other things in between.

I can't always be aware, truly present, to everything going on around me. But I try to remember to see, especially on days like today that started out under the knife and could easily have dumped me into depression. Seeing is always its own reward.

An example? This path I've just walked, thinking about my good coffee.

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