Posts Tagged coffee

Doggone It: or, How to Avoid being Kicked out of a Boston Hotel with a Service Animal

Thursday, April 12th, 5:00PM, Boston

I’m standing at the front desk in the Boston Copley Marriott with my friend and colleague, the lovely and talented K. Flush with the success of having completed the Sherlock Holmes book chapter we’ve been slaving over for the better part of this past year, we have arrived to present our labor of love at the 2012 conference of the Popular Culture Association. The day has been a haze of airports, metal detectors, and bad coffee. (I am still determining whether or not to grant amnesty to the Atlanta airport for that assault on my digestive system they called coffee). My guidedog is unceremoniously dripping rain-water on the highly polished lobby floor, and after months of anticipation, I’m thinking this is a rather inauspicious beginning to our adventure.

After determining which of the hotel’s approximately eight elevators will take us to our room and depositing our belongings, K and I descend to the lobby to discretely inquire where we might find a patch of grass for my dog to relieve his bladder. Being a suburban Floridian where foliage is plentiful, I have apparently underestimated the difficulty of locating greenery in downtown Boston. A severe-looking bellhop informs us that our only option is to walk around the corner of the hotel, which seems simple enough until K and I walk outside and discover that a: it’s still raining, and b: “around the corner” is actually about three blocks away. A simple trip outside has now become operation dogwalk, which we will execute about four times a day during the duration of our stay. (On Friday I will attempt, with only partial success, to execute operation dogwalk in high-heeled boots, a decision for which K will remonstrate with me in mingled amusement and exasperation). For now, we slosh through the puddle-dotted streets, dodging raindrops and the occasional pedestrian-oblivious driver, Zeus does what he set out to do, and we trudge back to the hotel. I am about to express my relief at being indoors when my dog, ever a paragon of poise and grace (except when he isn’t) performs a muddy paw-print prance across the lobby, shaking the water from his back and spraying a half-amused, half-disgruntled bellhop in the process.
“Bit wet out there, eh?” he remarks as we pass. Since my teeth are chattering with cold, I cannot smile without biting my tongue, so I settle on a nod of acknowledgement as we head for the bank of elevators that seem more at home in Panem’s District 13 than here.
“I think he shook his fist at us,” whispers K as the doors close behind us. She doesn’t think he’s actually angry; Zeus has probably managed to diffuse the situation with cuteness, but I wonder if there’s a button on the wall panel that will take us to a subbasement, since there doesn’t seem any hope of the earth opening and swallowing me whole. We’re going to be kicked out…and we haven’t even made it to the hotel bar yet.


After what will hereafter be referred to as the “lobby incident,” nothing—not even increasingly painful stabs of hunger—could convince me to leave my room, where I was content to hide my face in shame for the remainder of my stay (assuming, of course, that we weren’t going to be asked to leave, or at the very least to mop the floor). It was with the suggestion of alcohol and the assurance that the hotel’s restaurant’s location on the 2nd floor would allow us to avoid another encounter with the wet bellhop that K coaxed me to leave. We ate a celebratory “hurrah, we are in Boston and will kick ass tomorrow” dinner in the hotel restaurant, where I am compelled to emphasize that we partook of only one adult beverage each. Note this for future reference: it will become important later in the story.

After another trek to the poop park to avoid potential dog-related shit hitting the fan, we popped into 7-11 to obtain alcohol only to remember that grocery and convenience stores in the North do not carry alcohol. From the perspective of the girl who runs into her local grocery at 12:45PM on a Sunday for a bottle of wine and purposely spends an unnecessary amount of time deliberating over red or white until 1:00PM so she can purchase said wine under Florida law, I found the resignation of returning to the hotel from an aborted mission to obtain adult beverages just a little sad.

In any case, we are now snugly settled in our room for the night, depressed by, well, our failure to obtain depressants. We discuss what time we should be up and about the following morning, and K heads for the bathroom to brush her teeth.

K: We have a problem.
Me (pausing in the search for my own toothbrush, which I suspect might be buried in the dog food): What’s the matter now?
K: it’s…the bathroom door.
Me: What’s wrong with it?
K: It’s stuck. I think it’s locked.
Side Note: the bathroom door is a sliding contraption with no outer handle–just a screw to indicate where the inside lock has probably, and, inexplicably, gotten stuck. Additional note: alcohol has been consumed only in limited quantities–see above.
Me: but that’s impossible. It can’t just lock itself. Are you sure?
K: Well, I can’t open it.
Me: Let me try. (Pull, grunt, insert four-letter expletive of your choice. Lather, rinse, repeat).
Zeus: looks on in bewilderment at strange humanoid antics.
Me: Um, you’re right. It’s locked.
K: (in v. “Thank you, Captain Obvious” tone)I told you it was.
Me: Well, I just wanted to be sure. I guess we should call the front desk.
K: Which would be fine, but I don’t see any numbers posted anywhere.

We begin searching for paper containing need-to-know information. We discover a room-service menu advertising Eggs Benedict for the reasonable price of $17.00. (Let it be known that unless the Benedict associated with said eggs is one named Cumberbatch, I cannot justify the cost).

K: I’ve found something. This says to call “at your service, and we’ll be happy to assist you.” Which would be great, except there’s no number listed.
Me: Maybe there are dialing instructions on the phone?
K: I don’t see any.
Me: Are you sure? (Pointing to phone on nightstand).
K: Oh my god, there are two phones. (Walks over to examine keypad) and, there’s a button labeled “At your service” right here on this phone. What a waste of time!
Me: Just so we’re clear on this, I’m the blind one, right? But wait…what phone were you using? I’m confused.
K: This one, over here (pointing to phone at the other side of the room).
Me: I…what?

Apparently, for reasons clear only to the hotel staff, there are two phones approximately 10 feet from each other, both of which connect to the same line, rendering the necessity of two phones essentially pointless, what with this being the 21st century and all, where people need to be surgically detached from their portable electronic devices. I want to laugh, but consider banning this activity until the bathroom door has been unlocked, because I’m not sure my bladder can withstand the unnecessary pressure.

K has successfully placed a call to the front desk, after which we endure an agonizing waiting period. Finally two men from the maintenance staff arrive, screwdriver in hand, and the path to the porcelain throne is unbarred, much to our relief.

Me: Well, we’re off to an interesting start.
K: That was weird. Two strange guys with screwdrivers just came into our room, at 1:00 in the morning.
Me: and I wasn’t wearing a bra. V. awkward, that.
The only thought I can form as I crawl into bed is “Thank god they haven’t kicked us out…yet.”

Coming soon: Episode 2 of the Boston Chronicles-stay tuned!


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Give me Coffee or give me Death: a Chapter in the Life of a Caffeine Addict

Regular readers of my blog are familiar with my tendency to wax rhapsodic about the joys of caffeine. Coffee is to me what cocaine is to Sherlock Holmes; the cure for mental stagnation and the elixir of life (and, fortunately for me, the entirely legal and socially appropriate addiction for an academic).

That said, I find it miraculous that I can type in complete, grammatically-correct sentences right now. I have spent the past three days battling with headaches, excessive sarcasm (even for me) and the occasional twitch. Why, you ask? Simple: I’m currently visiting my parents, who, for the last few years, have been subjecting themselves, and occasionally me, to the muddy mess called half-caff coffee. Since Thursday, I have been walking around in a withdrawal-induced haze with approximately 50 % less caffeine circulating through my bloodstream than my body is usually accustom to receiving. Admittedly there is a legitimate, medical reason for this switch on my parents’ part to the abomination of beverages. Caffeine is technically not supposed to be part of my father’s diet. In fact, he was “strongly urged” by his cardiologist to remove coffee, chocolate, and red wine from his diet. Coffee, chocolate, and wine: shit, double shit, and triple shit. The above are my personal trinity. The removal of any or all will more than likely spell my demise. Dad says it keeps him alive. I say: give me coffee or give me death. Cut off my caffeine supply, and I’m about as pleasant as a premenstrual lioness.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to make contact with a chemical engineer about that long-anticipated 24-hour caffeine drip I’ve been dreaming of.

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Raise Your Cup of Joe: Celebrating National Coffee Day!

Yet again, I have Twitter to thank for reminding me of the existence of arbitrary holidays: today, National Coffee Day!

As is probably glaringly obvious (see blog name), coffee is my elixir—a daily blend of ritual and routine without which my physical and mental state would probably be more chaotic than it already is. I begin each day with it, rain or shine; during the work week, it’s the source of fuel that sets my gears in motion; on a Saturday morning, it’s the lazy luxury I linger over as I check e-mail, read a book, or just sit on my porch and drink in the details of the morning that all too often I find little time to appreciate in the workaday whirl. A friend once suggested to me during a year when I had difficulty deciding what my Lenten sacrifice would be, that I should give up coffee, to which I pointed out that spending 40 days in a comatose state would do little toward enabling me to experience the spiritual benefits of Lent. Besides, the purpose of Lent is penitence and spiritual growth; prompting my friends, family, coworkers, and students to contemplate murdering me because of my under-caffeinated crankiness would do little for their spiritual welfare, let alone mine. As my brother is fond of saying, Jesus suffered so we wouldn’t have to.

Coffee, at any rate, has filled every aspect of my life with its aroma; many a cup has kept me company during long, sleepless nights; it fills the cracks in my heart with comfort when I’m feeling low-spirited; some of my most memorable heart-to-hearts with my best friend have occurred over a cup of Joe; I saw immediate relationship potential in my most recent boyfriend during our first encounter at a local coffee shop (two years before we even considered dating). Any man who can defend Dunkin’ Donuts coffee over Starbucks with the fervor of political debate and logically argue his preference for mountain-grown coffee over coffee produced at lower altitudes is worthy of consideration as the potential father of my children.

Are you a coffee drinker? What role does coffee have in your daily routine? Is it a perky afternoon pick-me-up? A morning wake-up call? Do you drink so much of it that you’re in the market for an intravenous caffeine drip? Whatever, whenever, and however you take it: have yourself a cup of Joe and celebrate the full, flavorful, aromatic awesomeness that is coffee!

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Did You Want Coffee with Your Monday?

Nearly every Monday morning, for various reasons, I find myself reflecting on the truth of a passage from Christopher Isherwood’s novel /A Single Man/–the passage describing George’s arrival at the university for yet another mundane day of teaching:

So now George has arrived. He is not nervous in the least. As he gets out of his car, he feels an upsurge of energy, of eagerness for the play to begin. And he walks eagerly, with a springy step, along the gravel path past the Music Building toward the Department office. He is all actor now–an actor on his way up from the dressing room, hastening through the backstage world of props and lamps and stagehands to make his entrance. A veteran, calm and assured, he pauses for a well-measured moment in the doorway of the office and then, boldly, clearly, with the subtly modulated British intonation which his public demands of him, speaks his opening line: “Good morning!”

And the three secretaries–each one of them a charming and accomplished actress in her own chosen style–recognize him instantly, without even a flicker of doubt, and reply “Good morning!” to him. (There is something religious here, like responses in church–a reaffirmation of faith in the basic American dogma that it is, always, a good morning.

I’ve always loved the sarcasm with which Isherwood questions the social convention of wishing someone a good morning—especially on a Monday—the very existence of which seems to counteract the “goodness”. I couldn’t help smiling as I recalled the above passage this morning. I shuffled into the kitchen, switched on the light, rummaged through my pantry for the necessary coffee, cream, sugar, etc. In happy (or at least anxious) anticipation of my morning dose of caffeine, I set the coffee brewing and stumbled outside to let the dog relieve himself, sniff the grass, bark at birds, and otherwise show his superiority to humankind in his ability to embrace morning before sunrise.

The dog completed his business efficiently; we came back inside; I reentered the kitchen, reached for my coffee cup, and…alas! For some reason unbeknown to me, the coffeemaker hadn’t actually started. Fine; Monday is the day I usually go into work a bit later. I wasn’t in a rush, so refusing to be frazzled, I reset the machine, checked the water, and wandered back into the bedroom to check my e-mail while my fresh, fragrant elixir of consciousness brewed. I sifted through my mail until I heard the percolation process winding down. I retrieved my mug, added cream and sugar, took my first much-anticipated sip and…*splutter*. Horror of horrors! I was sipping boiling water laced with cream and sugar. Note to self: when making coffee, the desired result is usually best obtained if you actually add the…coffee! I was now approaching half an hour of being mobile and semi-conscious without caffeine. My limit is usually somewhere around ten minutes, and this is on an exceptionally slow day. So: dump the mess in the sink; reset the coffeemaker; lather, rinse, repeat. They say third time’s the charm, and thankfully that statistic proved accurate in this case, as I was fast-approaching under caffeinated, premenstrual, homicidal psychobitch.

To make a long story short, I have to agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Isherwood here; the implication that mornings (or at least Monday mornings)are good is a highly questionable one, and I’m thoroughly convinced that there’s a niche in the market for a coffee machine with an attached hand that reaches out to slap the under caffeinated human who is negligent enough to forget to add coffee before attempting to brew any, or even better, one that will conveniently add the essential forgotten ingredient, and possibly deliver it to the caffeine addict on a tray, Jetsons-style.

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