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(Coffee) Shop Talk

Welcome to the shop where I talk about things that go well with coffee, which is almost everything.

My horoscope is an Air sign, but I don’t really like flying. I like some things about it, like staring at clouds or looking at the lights on the ground at night, but the up and down parts make my ears hurt, and I’ve flown enough that in the past year or so, every time my plane takes off I can’t help but think that my odds of being in a plane crash have just gone up a little bit.

For a long time, I thought that I hated busses. I still don’t like them much because they make me motion sick and I so often find myself on 8-14 hour rides, usually overnight. Something I like about busses over planes, though, is that when traveling by land I can retain a sense of continuity of geography. Being in London, sitting inside a small room for a few hours, then magically being in Chicago makes me feel disoriented on an almost existential level.

I really like trains. They don’t change altitude or go over speed bumps, and the seats are usually big and comfortable enough to keep me happy for as long as the trip lasts. Unfortunately, they don’t go over oceans or through very many non-east-coast areas in the US, so I’m usually stuck with planes or busses.

In a few hours I’m going to get on a plane and go to New York City (via Atlanta, which often as not turns out to be a pretty epic detour), probably for the next two years. This is pretty exciting and terrifying, because NYC and change are both exciting and terrifying. I find myself thinking about something I read last year, when I was moving from Brooklyn to Cairo. I wrote about it on a previous blog post, but to summarize briefly, it was about the unknowable nature of goals. In The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera writes that our goals are always hidden from us because a goal, by its nature, is something we haven’t reached yet (my paraphrase).

In preparation for this move, I’ve been re-reading Alice in Wonderland. This quote especially made me laugh:

“Alice had become so used to out-of-the-way things that it seemed quite dull and stupid for life to go on as usual.”

Much more lighthearted than the one about hidden goals. The two quotes are pretty much unconnected, unless you’re one of those people for whom the pursuit of “out-of-the-way things” is always a goal. I suppose that, according to Kundera’s sentiment in ULB, unusual things are one of the best goals because in pursuing them you already know that you don’t know what you’re getting into. That doesn’t always make you feel better once you get into it, but if you don’t get into it, then life goes on as usual. Quite dull.

I do actually have more concrete goals than that, but it’s good, especially in times of transition, to remember that goals and plans are not set in stone and that the one thing you can be sure of is a white rabbit when you least expect him.

And that’s science.

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