Thursday, May 5, 2011

It is happiness to you

When we moved into the new office building, my second big concern was the length of the walk between my desk and a place where I could make hot tea. (My first concern was the floor-to-ceiling windows, total lack of window shades, and our department's location on the south side of the building. And our school offers Masters degrees in architecture AND interior design.) I solved the problem by getting a big insulated cup for hot water and a lovely blue glass sake bottle for drinking water.

It was such a beautiful bottle. After the first month had passed, everyone on the floor had gotten their "Rachel's guzzling alcohol at 9 in the morning!" jokes out of their systems, but I still regularly got compliments on it. The label held up well despite repeated washings, and featured a full-color reproduction of a Japanese woodcut of a geisha. The label was delightfully mistranslated and spoke of "rice pure 80% harvesting." It ended with the vaguely threatening "It is happiness to you."

Unfortunately, I never took the time to write down the rest of the label. And now, I'll never get the chance.

Yesterday, after I'd made my morning trip to the kitchen to fill up my vessels and wash my tea strainer, I put the full sake bottle on the edge of my desk and knocked it onto the concrete floor where it shattered into a half-gallon puddle of water and lovely blue glass.

The keening of my office mates was like the cooing of pigeons under the BQE. I almost cried. My bottle. My blue sake bottle.

Sometimes I used it to give me an extra foot of reach when I was taping manila folders to my windows to block out the relentless sun. Tall Boss said it looked like I was a drunken Spider-Man splayed out against the window, especially when I did it on St. Patrick's Day. Other times I read the label to the ladies from Financial Aid when we were sharing front desk duties, or compare it to my coworker's glass Mason jar he used for his water vessel. Rachel's guzzling sake and he's pounding moonshine.

Rest in shiny blue pieces, pretty sake bottle.

Today I brought in my replacement. It's not the same--but it'll do.

Excuse me--I have a bottle of sake to drink.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Bikepocalypse Now!

I'm going to cliche hell for that post title. But I worked six days this week and I'm having terrible allergies from breathing in tree sperm, so I've run out of damns to give, not that I had that many to begin with.

Today I saw what Mad Max would look like if the apocalypse happened and left behind only jocks and hippies. One whole side of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway was blocked off for the Five Borough Bike Tour, a 30,000-strong mass of bicycles that goes up Manhattan, u-turns in the Bronx, goes down through Queens, Brooklyn and Staten, and then--if I'm reading the route map correctly--cycles over the very waters of the harbor itself to its starting point in Battery City. Apparently riding a bike does give you the god-like powers professed by cycling enthusiasts.

I had no idea this was going on until I crossed the pedestrian bridge over the BQE on my way to the laundrymat and beheld a freeway full of bicycles. At first I was certain that it was a protest of some kind, like Critical Mass, because it was such a radical and subversive sight, like art or political cartoons come to life--mesmerizing, uplifting, and thought-provoking all at once. There could be nothing but bikes on the freeway! Why do we need cars? Why do we need gas and insurance and tolls? Why do we need authority, man?!

Dangerous stuff, New York. You're giving people ideas.