The Wax in My Coffee

February 4, 2017 by Jen

One day last week I was running late by the time I made it to the kitchen for my morning coffee. I was leading an early meeting, so I desperately needed caffeine. I reached automatically for the jar where I keep the beans. I shook it. It was the worst sound in the world–silence. There was no coffee to be had. I scrabbled frantically through the cupboards in search of a secret stash I had failed to stash.

That’s when I saw the centerpiece.


I got it a few years ago in one of my artsy phases. I’ve burned a lot of candles in it, but it’s been sitting on top of the microwave for the last year, gathering dust.

I looked at it for long time. (That’s what I’m telling myself now. It wasn’t actually a long time.) I had already decided to overlook the dubious extras. That’s what filters are for: filtering…stuff. In my state of desperation, I convinced myself that any coffee would be better than the situation I was facing. Check.

But then, I was picking out wax bits, and there were weird textures mixed in with the coffee that I thought would go away once I put it in the press, but they didn’t, and it was definitely affecting the flavor. My confident, “Any coffee is better than no coffee” seemed more dubious by the minute..

And suddenly it was a political metaphor.

Ever since the presidential election in November, I’ve tried to preserve the ability to converse without ending up on the subject of politics. While I think good governance and active citizenship matter greatly, there’s a vast difference between deliberate conversation and flippant remarks or casual references. Plus, I just want to be able to talk about other things! Yet somehow, the most ordinary topics have veered back toward Washington.

For instance:

A squirrel was hanging from the roof of my balcony, dangling from the gutter in order to get to a birdseed wreath I had hung there. Even though the squirrel had access to a disproportionate percentage of the available food, it clung to a desire for more, causing a massive flock of birds to descend on the balcony and tweet their displeasure.

See what I mean?

I have a real problem.

It’s as though politics has become the “That’s what she said” of casual conversation. Once it starts coming up, it’s hard to make it stop.

Yeah. I know. I’m insufferable.

Thanks, 2017.

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