I drank a lot of beer in my early adulthood. At first it was Corona, which was cheap and at the time not bad. A good hot-weather beer. In college we’d guzzle it by the case. Later on, all us hip kids started drinking Rolling Rock. It’s not actually very good, but it seemed cool at the time because it was new out West and wasn’t one of those normal beers like Mom & Dad had. Near the end of my twenties I became a beer snob and drank microbrews and imports and knew too much about beer. By this time I was drinking less and had more money so that was okay. I don’t drink very much at all any more. I see the kids drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon in a self-consciously slumming hipster way and think “right! we did that with Rolling Rock”. I think beer culture is in a loop in this country along with pop culture. Lately I drink Fat Tire and Wittekerke and the Unibroue stuff, but none of it in excess. I still like beer.
I never saw cockroaches until I moved to Los Angeles. I have always been messy, and as my life drifted out of control after college the messiness became annoying, then disturbing, then pathological, and finally just mind-blowingly disgusting. I got real familiar with cockroaches. I remember leaving the house to go to work and shaking one out of my pants leg, or lying awake and night and listening to them moving around the place. Since my downward spiral took me to bad neighborhoods, I lived in apartment buildings that were owned by roaches. There’s a particular smell in a building that’s at war with these creatures. It’s part insecticide, part boric acid, and partly the scent of the insects themselves. It’s a triggering smell for me, both nauseating and depressing.
The first time I recall having coffee was in Venice, Italy. I was seven years old and spending a summer there with my parents. Sometimes in the evenings after dinner we’d go to the Piazza San Marco and sit for a while at one of the famous cafés there. It was a carnival at night, with people selling mechanical flying doves and glowing neon-like tiaras and candy and weird little toys. I would get either a sundae of some kind (oh God Italian ice cream) or granita. You may have had a tasty iced coffee beverage here called granita. The real Italian stuff is basically crushed ice, sugar, and espresso frozen together just so, with lots of smashing the ice up and letting it refreeze repeatedly. The result is frozen pleasure. My small body took the caffeine and sugar and rocketed me to the moon. I was hooked.
I had coffee of various kinds a lot when we were living in Europe, because kids have it earlier there. Café au lait in a bowl in the morning, etc. Back in the States I didn’t have coffee much through the rest of my childhood. When I arrived at UCLA, though, the second phase began. The Kerckhoff Coffee House there served double cappuccinos for $0.85. I had between 6 and 10 of those a day for four years. By the time I left college I was a hobbled wreck of a man with a $10/day espresso habit.
When I make my coffee in the morning (which by the way is now half caf), I grind the beans fresh. When they’re ground just right I take the container and pour it into the filter cone. If I get a good breath of the fresh ground coffee something about it affects me poorly and I have to cough, every time. Then I take another big sniff of it because it smells so damned good.