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Monday, April 07, 2008

Caffeine Dreams

I wasn’t always a caffeine drinker (a.k.a. caffeine: abuser, holic, covetous imbiber of the brown death). No. Actually for years I shunned all caffeinated drink and food. I could sip warm herbal teas with the best of them. I used to drink orange juice for a pick me up or water.

On the occasional chance that I would accidentally eat something with caffeine it would give me the jitters leaving me tired afterward. I didn’t even like chocolate as a kid (I did like white chocolate Easter bunnies though).

I worked as a barrista in a mom and pop coffee shop that roasted its’ own beans and everything. I loved the aroma but not the drink itself. So what happened? How did I get snared by this non-drug, drug?

It was a trifold curse starting with Graduate school and the allure of Starbucks, seconded by birth of nonsleeping spawn, and thirded by caffeine addicted sibling who bought us a cheapo coffee maker and then spent a week plying us with evil brown morning elixer of life.

In graduate school I chose to write one of the many, many 35 pagers on Starbucks and their unique business model. My paper complete with graphs was a 50 plus page comment on my enthusiasm. Evidence that I had fallen in love with the whole third place to escape to, brown warm fuzzy in a cup, cool to be seen not seeming to be seen, I am finally not such a goodie two shoes non coffee drinking odd ball culture. And little by little I was hooked on latte’s: tall soy vanilla lattes please. The fact that I was working full time and going to graduate school full time did nothing to dissuade the extra mental clarity I would get after my own natural resources were wasted. I became a coffee achiever and devotee. And truly I am grateful for the Starbucks in Redondo Beach where I could sit outside for hours reading through hundreds of pages of required learning and sip a latte and feel the flow of life around me versus being shut up in my room going mad trying to get through all that reading as interesting as it was. For that I will always love Starbucks.

Then Ellie was born and she turned out to be a disciple of the Gods of No Sleep (GNS) for the first four years of her life. (Update on what we will just say is a new sleep pattern coming soon - maybe - you know I am superstitious about that and GNS are petty, vindictive, narcissistic lot - so enough said!) And because she is Ellie and we are attachment parents and her medical needs were intense it was an up all night party and I was still working the big job. Coffee became essential.

But now that Ellie is embarking on a new night time routine involving different gods (sorry to be vague but you know why) I am starting to remember that I really don’t like caffeine. For one it wrecks my skin. I remember that from college when I would accidentally get some caffeine and my skin would look blotchy. Also, after all the trauma and fatigue and STRESS of the last 5 years caffeine with its two stepping dance partner cortisol is the last thing I need. And, let’s face it folks I am getting older. And caffeine and the lack of sleep for the past several years are the main culprits to making me look my age, which I never have and don’t yet but am getting closer. Since I am not one for celebrity age control madness meaning: botox, mechanical fluid injections, leech therapy, Ashton Kutcher therapy (well maybe Ashton Kutcher…) are not in my future I need to cut out the caffeine and the processed suger and the stress... put one foot in front of the other....(see how my mind wanders?!)

I really feel that not having any caffeine will help all my cells take a deep breath and a long exhale which I badly need to relax. Ellie is stronger now and healthier and settled in a GREAT school – so it’s time to abandon the flight/fight/fright approach to life with all its highs and lows and relax into a rhythm that will help me keep a steady pace.

So today I didn’t have any espresso in the morning from our lovely espresso maker. I slogged through the day until 3:30 pm. But there was work to be done and my brain was foggy all day. So I broke down under the selfless, lying auspices of making a latte for a friend (not that I don’t enjoy serving my friends) and made a cuppa the brown death for myself as well. Yep. One, two, three gulps gone just like the old owl discerning how many licks it takes to get to the center of a tootsie pop. That would be three, three gulps to finish a latte and presto! I felt more awake, more alert, and my cells sighed in sadness as the wall came down and my heart began to race. I really don’t know how drug users do it assuming coke and crack are a slight bit more intense than caffeine but then again maybe they aren’t.

Tomorrow is another day and instead of going cold turkey maybe I will just have a cuppa Barry’s tea. Any thoughts out there on how to break this addiction?! Or am I completely batshit insane and should just give up trying to quit as a bad job?