If it wasn’t for the coffee, I’d have no identifiable personality whatsoever. // David Letterman
Don’t we all have ideas of what kind of person we want to be? Sometimes we actively live it (you know, the normal healthy option) and sometimes it’s a search for fucking Narnia. I mean, sometimes the answer is right there. It’s a wardrobe. How many coats do I have to go through to get there?
But there is so much joy when you find people who you admire and connect with. It’s often more than finding things in common — that TV show/band/song/film we both happen to like. It’s finding reasons why we like those things. And I just kept thinking, why do we have to feel a sense of connection with people? Whether it’s friends who you can seamlessly carry on a conversation with or the strangers we attempt to befriend in our daily routines, connections are everything.
There’s a routine I catch myself in almost everyday. With three days I’m at work and two I’m at school, every morning is essentially the same. And there’s always one point of the day I look forward to: the coffee.
Each morning is violent flailing of the arms with the alarm clock going off. And said alarm clock is snoozed a mental contracted minimum of four times. The idea of what I’m going to wear will change at least twice. Most mornings the ideal wardrobe decision is my coveted Michigan sweatshirt and jeans. If the zzzquil from the night before did its trick, I’m awake, alert, and only mildly anxious for the day. If there’s a spare minute, makeup is slathered on my face despite me knowing it will be smeared off by 1PM. At this point I have been told by my mom that it’s 10AM when it’s really 8AM, a tactic she uses that I still don’t know if it’s genius or cruel.
There’s a few knocks on the door making sure I’m awake, which leads to one major barge in and I’m sitting up in bed. The door closes and my head is already back on the pillow. I hear the steps again and the head rush I get from getting up too fast is quickly relieved by running into my closet, giving the illusion that I’m actually getting ready. I’m really just falling back asleep against my wall. Another spare minute and the coffee is being poured into a cup. Another rare minute and some sort of food I am grabbing from the kitchen is making its way into my mouth. More often then not, I open the door to leave with a piece of bread in my mouth, backpack falling off my shoulder, coffee spilling onto my shirt. This has inspired various sitcom situations I will one day tell to a budding comedy writer and he or she will make it into magic.
The drive is monotonous, fueled by one of the 17 mixed CDs (usually with The Black Keys in at least 5 or the 17) stashed in my car, despite the drive usually fueled by own made up Wes Anderson-esque soundtrack. For work, It’s always the same sites: the few miles of residential as I hit the freeway and the few minutes I’m stuck getting on the freeway. It’s the Citadel on my right, a monster that used to mark my halfway point to LA as I was a naive child. Now I’m parking for work, navigated by the other cars who correctly tell me which side I can park on to avoid a street cleaning ticket, avoiding almost every plausible parking spot with a parallel parking need. Up the street, through the leaves, keys in hand, I open the gate to work and all I can think of two things: my coffee break (which is honestly a chai tea latte break, aka liquid happiness) and what bookstore I can hit before I have to endure the trek home.
I’m convinced that the day is determined by the cup I choose to drink my coffee in — Christmas themed if it’s A) December and B) a weirdly cheery morning often fueled by the weird science behind “no sleep gives you more energy”. That or the various TV-themed ones usually lend to a cheery day. If I’m in the pure need of coffee, the standard large Starbucks mug works in my favor. If I’m in a hate my life mood, the Chapman mug does the trick. Other choices include the weirdly shaped short and fat one, which is actually how Liz has said she also likes her people.
Liz is me. I am Liz. Okay, before your Homeland-ish theories come into your brain, that’s what mutual friends have told us both in one of those, oh, you’re the same person, you will get along perfectly type of moment. And I don’t have a lot of those moments with a lot of people. My best friend and I may think the same sometimes, but we’re two completely different people.
Liz is a rad human being. A rad human being who makes it a point to be able to recognize fonts in her day to day life because it humanizes everything for her. And she tolerates my weirdness which I admire. But we’ve both come to the conclusion that everything is weird, so nothing is weird.
And that is some profound shit happening over coffee. But below is physical proof with why I’m obsessed with her. I also take comfort that we both admit to ending the day with a minor life crisis, mine complimented with wine or Oreos and hers with a spoonful of cookie butter.
Liz Pennock, 19 // Creative Producing major, English minor, critically acclaimed author, time traveler, artist + none of the above
I hope I can get into my apartment. Otherwise I’ll have to read in the community garden. The thought of that makes me cringe for no reason. I think it’s mainly because I don’t like reading while surrounded by fruits and vegetables.
(Katherine Sidenote: She was aware the moment these words came into her brain that it was an MTV show.)
My alarm goes off underneath my bed because that’s the only place I can charge my phone. I usually crawl underneath the bed, turn it off and go back to sleep. My second alarm is strategically set for the last minute possible and it goes off again and I freak out and jump out of bed. I then realize that I won’t be able to shower and silently regret not doing so the night before. My hair situation is not ideal but I can pull it together. Eye of the Tiger or the Can-can plays in my head as I stand in front of my closet, eyes glazed over. Deciding what to wear easily takes off 3 to 5 minutes of my life each day. I pick out an outfit that either says “I’m friendly, approach me!” due to its floral prints and colors or I’m in all black and my beat up doc martens, which says “Please go away.” Honestly it just depends on what’s clean, not my mood. I then put on the little make up I own, brush my teeth, eat a poorly prepared breakfast of cereal or eggs, down a cup of coffee like it’s the fountain of youth and sprint out the door without my student ID. I remember my ID half way to class, shed three small tears because I can’t buy another iced coffee at Einstein’s or get back into my room, and then I continue on my walk.
So I can’t get back into my room, which results in a trip to Barnes and Noble. Thrilled by the promise of new literature and Starbucks, I head out. The mixed CD I recently made for myself plays. “My Song 5” by Haim, my current jam, comes on, so I crank up the volume and roll down the windows with the hope that someone will recognize it and befriend me. I do this often, but it has yet to actually work. (Katherine Sidenote: a method I have tried endlessly and can provide evidence that no it doesn’t work. Refreshed to know there are other budding Tom Hansens out there.)
I arrive at Barnes and Noble and purchase my go-to drink at Starbucks (pumpkin spice chai tea latte). I’m not necessarily proud of my constant consumption of over-priced coffee drinks, (Katherine Sidenote: curse the pretentious concepts of Gold Cards and venti, but shit, Starbucks can be great) but it’s something I’ve learned to accept about myself and move on. In my mind, Wes Anderson has hand crafted a soundtrack for my book shopping experience. In reality, a Top 40 song is playing at low quality over the store speakers.
Liz is one of many bookmarked and dogeared pages in my imaginary memoir that I’m always writing in my head. So far, it’s a bunch of misspelled words and chapter titles like “People Watching,” “I Am Afraid of James Franco,” “Sam + Diane Forever,” and “In N Out is a Sustainable Meal, Mom.” But secretly I hope it’s actually filled with pages of Post-Its of the people I meet: my co-workers, strangers that send me postcards, that “bookstore guy,” the “I see you on campus all the time and it’s weird” people.
Everything is weird, so nothing is weird.
So sometimes the search for a connection is Narnia, and we’re coats that just don’t open a path the way James McAvoy intended. But at least we’re coats. There’s a reason we’re in that wardrobe.*
* A feeble attempt at a Narnia metaphor which I’m assuming is complete nonsense to society.