Every time I go into Barnes and Noble, I am sorely tempted to purchase one of their coffee mugs. It’s a bright cheery yellow with the image of a spoon painted on the inner lip. The mug itself sports a quote by T.S. Eliot: “I have measured out my life in coffee spoons”. I suppose it’s meant to be cute–the perfect catchphrase for the those who cannot bear to greet the day without their caffeine fix. Unfortunately, it comes from the terribly depressing poem “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” which means the mug might as well say “I’m a desperately lonely loser with no accomplishments and very low self-esteem.”
Measuring out one’s life in coffee spoons does not signal love of the bean. Instead, it is the calling card of a person who clings to mundane routine and never takes risks, romantic or otherwise. Eliot distills the essence of the poem in a single line: “And in short, I was afraid.”
Sadly, I relate to Prufrock on multiple levels, especially as a writer. The lines about time for “a hundred indecisions” and “a hundred visions and revisions” perfectly describes the way I write. Sometimes after deleting hours of work, I feel like throwing up my hands and saying “It is impossible to say just what I mean!”
It doesn’t help that I actually do wear the bottom of trousers rolled.
It’s now the end of the first month of 2014. My goal for the new year was to finish the novel by December. I still have eleven more months to go, but January was definitely a coffee spoons kind of month. And that is NOT a good thing.