Thursday, January 01, 2004

All I want is a decent cup of tea.

For the last, oh, I'd say year or so, every cup of tea I make tastes like shit. Not literally, but it sure doesn't taste as I have come to expect tea to taste.

I have been drinking tea since I was a child. In the summers, my mother used to make mint tea for my sister and I in the afternoons. It came out of the big gold Boston tea tin. We would drink it out of tiny, dainty cups, sweetening it with Domino sugar dots, plucking the cubes from the sugar bowl with elegant silver tongs as we played Casino or Gin.

A little over a year ago, my white sugar consumption was getting out of hand, and I decided to cut out the use of the three heaping teaspoons of the stuff I dumped in my tea three or four times a day. After going through a few days of "withdrawl" I began to enjoy the sharp, dry taste of the tea without the overweening sweetness.

Then we moved to a new apartment, our cat died, and I had a major upheaval at work. Maybe my tastebuds went kaflooey from the stress, kind of like people get that one streak of grey hair after a fright, because this is about the time that I noticed that all the flavor had gone. It may have something to do with the water in this building. We were using a Brita filter, but the water still came out very rusty, so we started using bottled water. Last week I embarked on a "taster's choice" with five different kinds of bottled water, making tea with all of them, trying to find one that would lend itself to making "brisk" tea. Deer Park had the most possiblity, slightly sharp, fairly dry, but still with a slight oily aftertaste. The others are not worth mentioning (Mountain Valley Spring tastes like bathwater!)

Another possibility is the sinus infection I have been struggling with for the past several months. I'm on my second course of antibiotics. My ENT says that I may need another surgery (the second) to "clear out" infected tissue. (I am so afraid to ask if it has something to do with all the stuff I put up there in the 70s and 80s, but that is a subject for another day.) He did say that this infection could affect my taste.

But none of these explanations make the tea taste any better, and that's all I'm really after.

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Wednesday, December 31, 2003

For the last few years that I have worked in midtown, I make it a point, if I leave early on New Year's Eve (who doesn't?) to walk through Times Square and gawk at the gawkers. Unbelievably, today, with all the increased security they were talking about, I got all the way down to 42nd Street before I lost patience with all the jostling and people not looking where they are going because they are looking up to see where the heck the damn ball is.

I've only gone to Times Square for New Year's twice. Once was the first year that I moved to New York, and I wanted to see if because I had watched it on Johnny Carson since I was old enough to remember. I dragged my roommate (who is now my husband) along, and we only got to 38th Street. The walk home was surreal, with all the streets in the vicinity closed to traffic.

The other year was 1999-2000. Tyler (by then my husband) had to work (remember y2k?) and with nothing to do, I set out. Had to go to 59th Street on the subway and walk back to around 47th, and even there we could only see the crowd that could see the ball.

Anyway, today I saw the Naked Cowboy, and I'm taking that to be a good omen for 2004.

Sunday, December 28, 2003

Oh, I had another dream that I was running last night. I was somewhere out in the country, and I was surprised that I was running. It felt so familiar, so right, the natural state for my body to be in, like a shark, constantly moving lest it die, I want, need the movement, that movement. I had no idea how far I had gone, I thought it wasn't far, because I hadn't run in so long that I couldn't believe I would have the strength. I approached an underpass, and there was a beautiful blue pool of water surrounded by small smooth stones. There was a woman there, and she said, "if you have made it to here, you're doing damn good." I rounded the pool, the stones crunching under my certain, rhythmic steps, and turned around to head back where I started, feeling so proud. I could feel my hamstrings working, the dull ache of exertion.

I ran off and on in high school, but I started running in earnest when I stopped doing drugs and drinking and smoking cigarettes and pot in the mid to late 80s. I was living in Atlantic City, and one icy bright Sunday morning in January I got up and went to the boardwalk and ran 7 miles without stopping.

A few months ago I was diagnosed with DDD, degenerative disc disease. The doctors telling me to exercise, but not run. "Find something else you like, some other kind of exercise," they say. How easy it is to say it! They hit in me in the face like a spiteful slap, those words.

I could put my head down and cry, I miss it so much. I ran last week on the treadmill at the gym, and oh, the familiar feeling! It felt the same as it ever did, the rhythm, my body and mind one. One. The next day, hurting, my back refusing to straighten without effort or ache, like a hangover, payback for a good time.

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