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“some imperishable bliss” — and other uses for good tea

March 10, 2010

‘But in contentment I still feel
The need for some imperishable bliss.’
— Wallace Stevens, Sunday Morning

The purpose of the best of times, I think, is to imprint God’s goodness upon our memories so that we will recall it during times that are not the best. Sometimes the close following of rough times upon smooth makes this recollection easy. A joy-fortified heart is naturally a more resilient heart. A hard lesson for me is that for joy come in the morning, one cannot spend one’s days joy-proofing oneself under the guise of discipline. Providential shakeups in my routine teach me this continually.

Two of my classmates came over for dinner last night, and I had not anticipated the extent of the treat this would be for my husband and me. As Myong Jung played background music on the harpsichord, I took Won up on his offer to help me cut vegetables for the stirfry. It was like the onion scene in Julie and Julia. Very quickly, Won had a platter of beautifully cut vegetables, and I was on my third mushroom. He found his way around, rejoiced at the seasonings in my cupboard, and I handed him a serving plate for the beautiful, delicious dinner he cooked. My contribution to the fare was a pot of sencha: a pleasant complement, but hardly a pièce de résistance.

Myong Jung blew his colleague’s cover. During his so-called wandering years, Won worked as a chef in a Chinese restaurant in Korea. You would expect that from a guy who already has two master’s degrees and is working toward a third, this time with the added challenge of studying in an alien tongue.

The uplifting time we enjoyed with our friends will fortify me through the inevitable offsets of the next several days. This morning began with great promise. Then, I went to the Proctor Safeway, which is being transformed into Fort Safeway, and discovered that everything had been moved to its permanent new location 100 feet or so from its longstanding venue. Eggs, Lactaid, light bulbs, and other superfluous staples of life had all been relocated. The legions of employees who formerly asked, “can I help you find anything?” had evidently been relocated as well.

When I arrived home, no light bulbs were to be found in my bag or in my car, although prominently listed on my receipt. I called the nice Customer Service Lady, who took scarcely a moment to discover that the light bulbs indeed remained on Sheryl’s counter. They would be waiting for me at Customer Service.

I returned at once, lest the bulbs become impatient in their vigil. The nice Customer Service Lady handed me my light bulbs without apology or an offer of a free cup of coffee for my extra trip and inconvenience or anything else; we bid each other a nice day, and I made myself a permanent memo never again to shop during an establishment’s transformation from a neighborhood grocery store to an urban fortress.

On returning home, precious chandelier lightbulbs in hand, I was happy to see that my Amazon order for some double-wall borosilicate glasses had arrived two days ahead of schedule. This would make for an excellent, de-stressing tea time. Inside the package, which was blazoned with “how’s our packaging?” messages, were two boxes, each containing two glasses. One of these glasses had reverted to its original molecular structure during shipment. In this case, double-walled meant double dust.

Wonderful. Now two more things insinuated themselves ahead of the placating genmai I had hoped to sip in bliss as I picked up where I left off in Korean: I had to write Amazon for further instructions, and I had to clean up the glass shards that had spilled from the bubble wrap onto the counter.

I have the drill down to where it takes less than half a day to find the Contact Us link at Amazon’s website. I explained the circumstances, and asked whether Amazon would like me to return both glasses of the set, or only the broken glass, or whether they really wanted me to return the glass splinters at all. I settled in with other things, expecting to hear from them in 12 hours.

Within less than 12 minutes, one Gopi Krishna advised me that he had placed an order for another set of glasses without charge, that I need not return the broken glass, and that I was free to dispose of, keep, or donate the damaged product. Now that is resolution. And that is why we can never have enough good friends and good tea.

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