Friday, August 1, 2014

The FedEx and UPS Deliveries of the Mind

There are times when you have ordered such things as computers, items of clothing, and, in the most recent such venture, an espresso making machine, complete with individual capsules filled with various types of coffee, then awaited delivery via FedEx or United Parcel.

The time of delivery is agreed upon because such things have to be signed for.  This means there is a window of a day where you might otherwise be doing something constructive away from home, something such as teaching a class, or perhaps writing at breakneck speed in a coffee shop, where you've gone to get away from the distracting quiet of your home.  

You might even be skulking in a number of book stores, daring the right title to present itself to you as a surprise of a treasure, something you might not have read about in any of the six or seven review sources to which you subscribe.

All irony and suppressed sarcasm to the side, you are at home during this window of time, no doubt drinking coffee, less doubt still consulting the yard for tell-tale traces of the FedEx or UPS delivery truck, the forthcoming shipment somehow gathering more importance than you'd ever intended.  

The espresso machine--an enormous disaster, by the way--was a complete whim.  You have several sizes of the stove-top Bialetti device that makes an admirable attempt at most of the espresso coffee you're likely to drink at home.  Nevertheless, you wait for the person who will deliver it, whereupon, you will sign for it in a flourish of cursive.

But here's the rub.  The window of delivery time has come.  And gone.  No trace of the delivery person.  You feel more let down than a computer you do not absolutely need (because you have a back-up) is worth, or a summer-weight jacket, or a stainless steel stock pot, both of which will add some interest to your life but no more than you are apt to discover without awaiting delivery.

There is only one way to assuage your disappointment, a cafe au lait at one of your favored venues, say the Daily Grind across De La Vina from Trader Joe's, which you know to be having a display of figs and of fig jam.

On your way out, either tacked to the gate or in your mailbox is a note from the delivery source, regretting you were not home, then giving you the option of driving to some facility in the nether reaches of the city or calling a number to reschedule the delivery.  There is a slight note of reproof in the suggestion that this time, you pick a time when you know you will be home.

Laid back and forgiving of human trespass as you have become during these golden years of yours, you are anything but laid back now, wanting to exact some elaborate revenge fantasy in which FedEx and UPS trucks litter the landscape, on their backs, wheels still spinning, their drivers sitting helpless at their sides, shaking their heads at the cunning and malevolence, dare you say the shock and awe of your revenge.

The feeling returns to you on those rare days when you sit to compose, awaiting word of delivery from your whim of composition, which you have ordered, then come to feel the need for its arrival.

After an hour or so of fidgeting and the occasional tapping of the delete key, you repair to the kitchen, spooning your favored Espresso Forte roast into your stove-top Bialetti machine, thinking coffee will settle the matter, give you the proper balance to begin.  Most often, all you need is a sentence or two, at most a paragraph before you are in and at one with the image of your concoction.  It is speaking to you.  On some occasions, you're even able to do what you try not to do, which is edit; you do this by cutting some of the early clutter and set-up.

There are the times when you have in effect been left the equivalent of the Sorry We Missed You note from FedEx or UPS or, for that matter, even the USPS relative to the arrival of a check that needs to be signed for.  You feel the impatience begin to rise, visualizing the stainless steel stock pot, filled with water come to a boil just before you deliver a handful of pasta for an evening meal.

You are eager for the delivery, whether it is an essay, a chapter from a nonfiction project, or a scene from a story.  At first, you grouse at the number of years you awaited delivery and none came.  Then you remember how important those years were to the overall process, by which time you understand the enormity of the gift when it arrives.

Some nights, you're up late, working.  Other nights, you're up late, waiting for delivery, alert to the outside noises of the street.

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