February 27, 2000
Insane Clown Coffee 


I beat him to the stereo this morning.

At quarter past eight, David was still buried up to his nose in blankets, sawing logs like a Grizzly 30 Portable Bandmill, while I quietly crept around The Castle in search of caffeine and Celtic harps. Today is my precious *Alone Day* ... the one day of the week when conversation and "To Do Lists," like Maybelline and undergarments, are strictly optional. I plan to spend the entire day writing.

Motivational background music is a necessity.

So instead of our usual Sunday morning dose of "Springsteen Winterland Night!" or "Springsteen Nassau Night!" or "Springsteen Sydney Night!" ... he awoke, a few minutes later, to the gentle strains of "Planxty Irwin."

"I hear mood music," he said in faux distaste, standing in the middle of the kitchen looking sleepy and confused. I told him to live with it ... and handed him coffee.

"Careful," I cautioned him. "This stuff will make EVERYTHING stand on end."

(I'd also beaten him to the Krups this morning ... which means that instead of one of his wishy-washy pots of polite, unadventurous coffee, we had one of *my* infinitely more sinister concoctions brewing: in this case, two-thirds leftover Peet's French Roast, mixed with a little fresh-ground Jet Fuel.)

"That's not just coffee," he marvelled, peering into its murky depths. "That's insane clown coffee." And he plunked another ice cube into his mug.

A few minutes later, sufficiently caffeinated and dressed, both of us -- he in his Blue Oyster Cult T-shirt and black Levi's (he's going to visit his mom today, so he dressed up for the occasion), me in my Old Navy Sweatshirt and bare feet --  he kissed me goodbye and left for a day of bikes and guitars and computer-shopping.

I sat down in front of the computer with another cup of Insane Clown Coffee and commenced my Alone Day.

Recently I've found myself re-learning the art of sleeping late on the weekends.

Part of me still feels I should be sneaking out of bed at 5 a.m. every morning -- even on Saturdays and Sundays -- and heading straight for the computer. This is a holdover from the days when I was doing stuff online that I didn't want anybody to see ... and then later, the days when the computer was my only lifeline to the world outside of the Tree House, and those four hours of unconsciousness every night were merely an annoying *interruption* in the cyber connection. Part of me is still emotionally conditioned to crawling out of bed, in pre-dawn darkness and cold, and flipping on the monitor to begin the day's damage control.

Usually through the blur of the previous night's Mountain Chablis.

Old habits die hard. Even after a year and a half of sobriety, I am still surprised and delighted every morning when I wake up without a hangover. It's like a little gift I give myself, over and over. (Cringingly remembering all those mornings waking up on the couch, afraid to move a muscle ... waiting to see if it would be toast and coffee, or Imodium A-D and Gatorade.)  And I am still surprised and delighted when I wake up and remember that basically my life is pretty OK these days ... that I really don't need to run out to the kitchen and turn on the computer, unless I want to. It's not like I sat in a chat room until 3 a.m.  ...  insulting newbies, chatting with "separated" men, writing inflammatory message board posts  ...  and now I have to get up and undo the damage before the rest of the West Coast wakes up and checks their e-mail.

Nowadays, when I wake up at 6 a.m. on a Saturday morning and I immediately feel that compulsion to tiptoe out to the kitchen and fire up the Monster PC ... I force myself to roll over and go back to sleep, instead.

Some mornings I sleep as late as SEVEN A.M.

It's brand-new for me. And quite nice, actually. I might even get used to it eventually.

There are a handful of other things that I am "re-learning" these days, as I cruise into my second year of recovery.

I'm re-learning food, for example, and the way certain types of it make me feel. This morning, for instance, I passed over the frozen waffles in favor of the new box of "Protein Plus!" cereal. (Never mind the fact that it was like eating chunks of broken plaster: at least I won't be sound asleep again in an hour.)

Television is another. I missed three whole years of "Must-See TV," during the cheap-chablis-and-chat-room days.  All of a sudden, watching TV is sort of *fun* and *groovy* again. (And not all of it is brain pollution. I figure that for every "Who Wants To Marry a Multi-Millionaire," there is David Letterman's return; for every ghastly "Ally McBeal" episode, there is Iron Chef.)

Another thing I'm re-learning? Or trying to get used to, anyway? The idea of spending money on myself and not feeling guilty about it. Which is proving to be one of the toughest lessons to re-learn, for reasons I can't quite figure out.

Case in point. Yesterday David and I went to K-Mart so I could buy myself some clothes hangers. Until recently, I've always used the el-cheapo wire hangers we get from the dry cleaners, without compunction or complaint. Why not? They're free. They do the job.

I was never much of a Joan Crawford fan, anyway.

But ever since I stopped going to thrift stores and started buying my clothes new --  read this: clothing containing absolutely zero DNA from *previous owners*  -- I've been fighting with my half of the closet.  Specifically, with the stoopid wire hangers, which are suddenly too flimsy to hold my suit jackets, and are always getting tangled together, and always leave an ugly "dent" in my pants, right about knee-level, which means that I have to drag out the ironing board at 7:25 a.m. and do some emergency pressing, unless I want to go to work looking like I woke up wearing the same clothes from the night before. (And THAT'S a look I abandoned in 1998 or so, thankyouverymuch.)

David watched me struggling to fit a jacket, a pair of pants and a skirt onto one dangerously-overloaded wire hanger the other day and said, "Why don't you just buy some better hangers? You can afford it."

Oh. Hey. There's a thought.

Once we got to K-Mart on Saturday, of course, he literally had to talk me into spending the extra sixty cents to *upgrade* from the el-cheapo plastic skirt hanger to the sturdier metal skirt hanger. I stood there in the middle of Aisle 32, holding the crappy plastic hangers in one hand ($1.39 for a package of two) and the more "expensive" hangers in the other hand ($1.99), and I worried about that extra fudking sixty cents.

David could see it in my face. "Which hangers are going to fall apart in a month?" he asked me.

Silently I held up the $1.39 pack.

"OK, then, which hangers are going to to last for a month?" he continued patiently.

I held up the more "expensive" $1.99 pack.

He carefully looked at the price stickers on both packs of hangers. "So the difference is sixty cents a pack," he said, "and you're buying what? ten packs?"

I nodded.

"So that's an extra six bucks, right?" he said, and I nodded again.

"And you would spend how much on a bottle of wine, on a Saturday night?" he asked.

"Five ninety-eight," I said automatically. I didn't even have to think about it.

"Well then," he said. "You do the math."

I bought the more expensive hangers.