The Portland Diaries, Part 4
This was me the very moment I woke up this morning:
I do not like my state of mind;
I’m bitter, querulous, unkind…
I am not sick, I am not well.
My quondam dreams are shot to hell.
My soul is crushed, my spirit sore;
I do not like me any more.
I cavil, quarrel, grumble, grouse.
I ponder on the narrow house.
Except that unlike my drinking buddy Mrs. Parker, I had no excuse. I was not due to fall in love again. I was just a foul, miserable creature for no good reason. I woke up with a nest of hornets in my head and the buzzing just got louder as the day went on. If you had come near me today, I would have bitten you. Biting somebody might have cured me, actually, if I ever got the chance.
Everything pissed me off today. Starting with the rain–the insufferable goddamn gloomy cold miserable rain, which only let up long enough for it to hail.
Yes. I got mad at Portland over the rain.
And then I got pissed off at my bank over their aggressively, willfully stupid “have you tried reinstalling Windows” version of tech support.
Again: Yes. I got mad at tech support for their inability to fix the thing they are supposed to know how to fix.
And then I almost lost it over a badly designed conference registration website, and then–this really happened–I yelled at my in-box over the amount of spam in it.
That’s right. I am the person who, today, got mad at spammers for sending spam. I did that.
So then I realized that as long as I was going to be such a terror, I might as well give up and make today Shit Day. Shit Day is the day I set aside, about once a week, to deal with all my shit. Unanswered emails, unpaid bills, unsigned contracts, unrun errands, all that crap. (If you’re a freelancer, and particularly a freelancer who works in the arts and needs long periods of uncluttered creative time to work, I highly recommend that you institute Shit Day. Just put all your shit off until your next regularly-scheduled Shit Day, which will fall on the next day that is already so messed up that you’re not going to get any good work done anyway.)
So I went at my dumb little to-do list like the enraged-for-no-reason beast I was today, not just crossing things off the list as I finished them but actually stabbing them, actually running my pen like a knife through the spleen and liver and lungs and heart of my list until it was just about dead.
Then–oh, god! Then I realized that it was already four and I had better catch a bus and get to campus for my class. The one I teach, I mean. The one where I am expected to be–if not wise, helpful, useful–at least appropriately dressed and decently behaved and not on a killing spree.
And here’s the thing–last night, we all attended the Church of Junot Diaz, who, since I last saw him 14 years ago on the book tour for Drown, has become such a distilled perfected version of who he was put on this planet to be that those of us who went to see him last night did not not bask but actually baked in his presence–I swear, when we left we were all slightly roasted, we left with a little tan, a little radiation burn–
and after a night like that, I’m going to drag my miserable, angry, pissed-off-at-tech-support self to class? So writing students at MIT get to sit in a room with Junot Diaz and try not to get singed by the sparks flying off him, and writing students at Portland State get–what? Bitter, querulous, unkind me?
I promised myself the following as I got on the bus: a venti nonfat chai, a large hunk of whatever baked good was left in the case at five o’clock, and, when I got home, some sort of bourbon-based consolation.
You all know what happened next. Everyone in class was so clever and witty and thoughtful and generally willing to show up in a windowless room on a Tuesday night and actually give a shit for over three hours straight that all I had to do was sit there and watch in amazement and suck down my chai. We are starting off every class with a story, and two people told sweet and funny stories and by the end of story time I was OK.
But I still came home and had that drink. I mean, that was the deal, right? There were good peaches at the store this week, and we all know that the highest and best use of a peach is to soak it in bourbon. So.
I think a Consolation should be a category of drink, like a Sling or a Flip or a Fizz. A Consolation is a warm and indulgent drink served at the end of a trivially difficult day. Here, then, is my:
Peach and Bourbon Consolation
2 oz bourbon
2 tbsp sugar
Optional: orange or peach bitters, Luxardo cherries
Mix equal parts sugar and water in a heatproof glass. Nuke it for just under a minute, until the sugar melts. In a tumbler, muddle bourbon with a couple slices of peach. Strain but do not discard the peach remnants; that is a lost opportunity. Just slurp them down while standing over the sink. Don’t worry, nobody’s looking.
Now add to the tumbler a little of the the still-hot simple syrup to taste (or just a little hot water), plus a few drops of bitters if you have them. Stir well. Garnish with another slice of peach. Or just eat the peach. Add a Luxardo cherry if you want to, or–hell, it’s your Consolation, so add whatever you want. You could drop a chocolate chip cookie in there and I wouldn’t tell anybody.
Drink it while it’s slightly warm and lovely. If you sneak back to the kitchen and add a little more bourbon later on, I won’t tell anybody about that, either.