It drizzles down the nozzle of an overused kettle. Boiling water. There are dry bits of dusty coffee-curds at the bottom of my cartoon tattooed mug. Dribble, gurgle, psssh…slurp! Voilà. Instant coffee.
Disgusting and oh so effective.
I have no time to study. No time at all.
By that, I mean: my mid-term is in three hours and I’ve only just started learning what a derivative is.
That means: pump the coffee into my blood system sister, I have no time to be human right now. Caffeine, sweet legal drug, make me into a robot.
That used to be what I lived by, in college.
Clearly, last minute study sessions and caffeine aren’t enough in University…I realize it now, I accept my failure…I know I have to review my methods now…I thought I knew how to do it, turns out I didn’t. Oh well, I guess you have to start somewhere…I realize that just like making my very first cup of coffee, studying for my first university exams, is just not something you “get” intuitively. It takes guidance and practice…
So staring into the cup of coffee to my left, as I type this, I can’t help but feel relief. I can do it.
Just like my first cup of coffee, first exam session in uni… Just a total flop.
I was six.
I had seen my mother make coffee many times. I knew what was involved in the process. There was hot liquid. There were coffee beans, and there was always milk. And that was it. Mom said she didn’t like sugar in the coffee. To me, that made no sense all, but who was I to judge? I wasn’t all that interested in coffee, whatever went into it. I was more the type to nibble at the little sugar cubes in restaurant booths. The rest, it was grown up stuff. Way above my capacity to comprehend.
When I tried my hand at the first coffee creating atelier, my mom was having friends over. We lived in the quiet part of NDH, and I was wearing a princess dress. I wanted to make myself useful. Also, I wanted to collect compliments. As many as possible, before being sent to bed for the night. Coffee must have seemed like the most effective way to recruit praise.
I scurried up to my mom at the end of the day and told her I would make the coffee. People seemed fairly impressed. Instant gratification. I was feeling confident. How hard could it be, really?
I went to the kitchen. Kettle on. So far, so good.
I took the french press. Got the coffee beans out, ungrounded. I got the milk.
It couldn’t be that hard.
The kettle came to a “click”. I fetched it, set a little stool next to the counter and propped myself off. Like a little pink sorceress, I was making a concoction.
I dug my hand into the coffee bag, and put two handfuls of coffee beans in the French press…And then added the boiling water. I looked at the beans floating on the water. It looked odd, but I wasn’t done. I poured milk in. It looked even worse. I took a spoon and stirred, hoping the beans would dissolve and somehow, coffee would look like coffee…It didn’t work.
I was very confused. I went outside, called my mom in and showed her what I had done. She laughed…And laughed… And laughed. My ego was bruised. I hadn’t wanted to admit I really didn’t know how to make coffee, even if I knew what it required as ingredients. I wasn’t far off; I just wasn’t quite there yet.
Similarly, I didn’t want to admit that I didn’t know how to prepare for university, although I knew what it takes to succeed.
Just like taking the patience to observe my mom make an actual cup of coffee, university requires the patience to learn what works for you. Don’t be shy to ask. Don’t be impatient.
If uni isn’t your cup of tea yet, it’ll be your cup of coffee later, I promise.
All the best,
Photography by Brielle Juliet.
© 2017 Reef Magazine