what it's like to be Roman Catholic
Saturday, December 23 2006
Our houseguests all drink coffee, and since this was the first time in over a month that a pot of coffee had been made in the house, I took the opportunity to break my five week coffee fast. I managed to drink two cups on an empty stomach, which didn't turn out to be such a good idea. I felt pleasantly buzzy and talkatively social at first, though not nearly as buzzy as expected. Later, though, I gradually became irritable and anxious, a predictable consequence of coffee drunk on an empty stomach (even by a seasoned coffee addict).
We all went out to lunch at Gabriel's in Uptown Kingston, and I didn't make the mistake of ordering the burrito, the only thing I've ever ordered there (and which tastes like a half-dried bottle of Elmer's Glue-All). Instead I had the falafel wrap, which was delicious. Unfortunately, though, by this point I was experiencing an unexpectedly bad red wine hangover. Red wine (mostly Yellow Tail Cabernet Sauvignon followed by something Gretchen found delicious) was all I'd had last night. I hadn't even gotten all that drunk, but for some reason (perhaps because of how infrequently I drink these days), the hangover today ended up being one of the worst I've ever had. It wasn't even that it was an especially physical hangover; the headache was mild-to-nonexistent and there were no gastrointestinal effects (aside from the toxic cloud that accompanied this morning's numero dos). But after eating that falafel wrap today I sat back in my chair and suffered through a couple minutes of debilitating purely-psychological hangover symptoms. Such symptoms are difficult to describe since, like dreams, they transcended the normal human logical/narrative system. Suffice it to say that I found myself capable of simultaneously holding two contradictory opinions on things. I also felt that I was thinking my way through something of an idea minefield, and that it might be possible to kill myself simply by having the wrong thought. (I guess now I know what it's like to be Roman Catholic.) If someone were to try to talk to me during the peak of these feelings, I think it would have been difficult for me to formulate a logical sentence.
As we left Gabriel's, the weather was so pleasant that one of the customers had decided to sit at an outdoor table. This is not a normal possibility in Upstate New York in late December. "What a great idea," Gretchen said to the woman at the outdoor table, adding, "Not that it's a good thing; we're probably all going to Hell." The woman nodded her head in agreement and chuckled.
I'd recovered by the time we went on a brief walk through Uptown followed by a shopping spree at Kencos (out where Hurley Mountain Road meets Route 28). I noticed for the first time today that Kenco has a large photovoltaic array on its roof, but (due to an non-fortuitous roof alignment and the presence a low ridge to the south) the array faces mostly eastward.
Later this evening, long after our houseguests had set out for their ultimate Upstate destination, I found my hangover coming back to bite me a second time. Interestingly, though, it seemed to be giving me as many abilities as it was taking away. While I experienced unpleasant anxiety and a lack of motivation, I found myself unusually absorbed by scientific content in Wikipedia. I read and re-read passages from the articles about super novas, white dwarfs, and (strangely) neodymium, trying as best as I could to understand what outward force causes super novas to explode instead of collapsing quietly into neutron stars. I've never found a satisfactory explanation for the explosive force and tonight was no different, but I'm a little closer to understanding than I have been in the past.
While I found the scientific stuff so engaging that I stopped obsessing about my hangover symptoms, later when I tried to read material at DailyKos.com, it proved unusually difficult to follow. It was as if my brain at that moment could only accept scientific information.
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