Daily Obsession # 1
by Cristian Giodice
I have a problem, just the one, but all the other problems stem from that one. It's a problem that ruins my day from the first thing in the morning to the last thing at night. When I'm exhausted and I'm lying in bed, I think to myself that tomorrow will be better. Perhaps it has something to do with the water, or maybe it's the seal? I'll never know. The only certainty I have is that it happens every day.
In the evening, out of habit, I prepare the coffee mocha ready for breakfast the following day. I try to pay close attention to make sure everything is just right. As I carry out my preparations I imagine the flavour, the aroma which will fill the room, and the cigarette that will follow. Everything seems in order, no margin of error, and no sign of any obvious mistakes. So, I go to bed confident and hopeful.
The alarm goes off and violently rips me from my flight of dream. I am plummeted traumatically back to reality, which comprises of grey cloudy skies, not yet old enough to be called daytime, and a snoring in my ears.
After having struggled out of bed, my first act is to go and switch on the small gas ring and turn it down to the minimum. In the meantime: toilet, deodorant, clothes, and from the moment I am lacing up my shoes, anxiousness about the forthcoming result begins to pervade my cotton wool mind.
As I approach the coffee machine I am tense, visibly contracted, rigid. I lift the grumbling lid nervously, I close my eyes, praying for success; I lower my head and look inside. My knees sag imperceptibly and a spontaneous sigh echoes around the apartment.
Here we go again, practically no coffee has come out and what little that has is boiling impatiently.
On to plan B
As popular tradition dictates, to avoid this problem, I run the mocha’s base under cold water; then once I again, place it back on a low gas, for another couple of minutes.
I try to distracted myself, to elude the growing stress that I can feel rising in my chest, by checking my e-mail. No new messages, so I return to the stove.
Inevitably, my eyes discover the perpetual failure. For the umpteenth time, no more than a fingers width of coffee. I take a cup, pour it in, it doesn't even half fill it.
I'm furious when I add the sugar to this mixture and I stir, grudgingly turning the spoon, I'm already knackered. I bring the cup to my lips, its strong burnt flavour assaults my taste buds, and my mouth contracts into a grimace of disgust.
From its pot, on the window sill, a cactus, sadistic and spiky, reminds me that today is Monday and the week has only just begun.
Daily Obsession # 2
by Cristian Giodice
When I get to school, even if I'm running late, I go to the bar. I order a cappuccino to overcome the revolting taste that the dribble of coffee from home, has left in my mouth.
I ask for a coffee and ask for it not to be too hot. I'm rigorous about this. It's a habit that I've had since adolescence, when the little creature that governed my heart told me that if the cappuccino was too hot it would ruin my tooth enamel.
The man at the counter gives me a concerned look, he manages to satisfy my request once or twice every ten times. He disappears for a moment behind the coffee machine, then reappears. He tries to distract me by asking about my students, or telling me about the football. I respond monosyllabicly, scrutinising his dosing with an austere look. When he places the cup upon the saucer, which is already waiting on the counter, I have the packet of sugar, in my hand, already open. Slowly I poor in the granules as the barman discretely moves away, and I stir the concoction in an anti-clockwise direction, as is the way of us left-handers.
My lips touch the frothy liquid, and rays come out of my eyes and burn in to the barman who, in his intimidation, is organising the croissant display. It's too hot! I pay and leave, without saying goodbye, whilst two pernicious eyes silently curse me from behind the counter.
Running down the corridor, I want revenge, violent revenge, but the only thing I can do is go into the classroom and threaten to fail someone.
Daily Obsession # 3
by Cristian Giodice
I get home and it's already late for lunch and I've got to eat. I'm not usually hungry because of all the cigarettes that I've smoked during the morning; today however, I'm really hungry, famished. So when the door closes behind my back, I am already examining the pan, to discover what my darling has decided to leave for me to heat through for lunch: cutlets, re-fried spinach and hard boiled eggs. Wonderful!
I start to heat up the cutlets and I begin to salivate excessively and try to stave off my hunger by scoffing down a a piece of bread, that causing me to choke.
As I stir the vegetables I think about her. She's gone to work. Having different working hours we only see each other in the evening. We substitute cuddles by preparing food for each other: her sumptuous lunches, and me, romantic dinners. This is what she thinks, but never says.
When everything is warmed through, I serve it up neatly on the plate, in this order: cutlet, eggs, spinach. I take it to the table, where everything is already laid out: American table-cloth, a glass on the right, place mats. I take a fork and spear the cutlet. The first mouthful inebriates my senses. I look for a napkin to clean my mouth. I want a drink of water, but alas I can not find it, or better still it's not where it should be: it's not in the place where centuries of everyday use have dictated it should be. Instead I find it on the other side of the plate, and the blood rises to my head, my stomach closes and my hunger evaporates.
I get up, thumping my fist on the table, and think about tonight's dinner, I don't think it's going to be such a romantic evening anymore.
Daily Obsession # 4
by Cristian Giodice
If paradise exists, I'm not going there, not that I care.
If there is a paradise for human beings, why can't there be a paradise for animals, plants and objects?
I was little more than a child the first time I asked myself this question. Over the years I have asked myself the same question quite regularly and each time, I come up with different answers. The first time though, my childhood's religious indoctrination made me quite certain of the existence of paradise for finished or half-finished bars of soap. And so every so often, when the occasion presented itself, I would provide the remains of the soap, a brief and honourable funeral and send it gurgling down the vortex of water.
Now, as it happens, just about a month ago, a small morsel of pink soap was sitting there, in the corner of the soap-dish, drawing its last breath. Automatically I initiated the funeral rite, and I searched through my memory, rummaging around in the dustiest recesses of my mind, to find the litany which is supposed to accompany the funeral ceremony.
Alas, years of vice have laid waste to my cognitive capacity and the frustration of a failing memory coupled with this kind of search, is not to be recommended. This small detail, the failure to remember something, provoked an anger inside of me which has been growing. It is as if this anger has been stored up over the years and in turn it has created an obsession, that, for want of a better expression, is somewhat less than genial. It is quite predictable. You see, memory is not to be trusted, particularly if its partial or imbalanced. So, until my mind is able to remember the required liturgy, my body simply can not touch the soap. So, consequentially, because of this obsession I have been afflicted with, from that day forward I have not washed.
Translation by Daniel Morris http://www.digital-daniel.it/