Wednesday, July 11, 2012

In Excess

Clearly, I cannot be trusted.

Let me clarify.  I can be trusted with lower-level things, like secrets. I can be trusted with curriculum development, teaching young sprouts to read and inciting activism in college students.

I can be trusted with things like car maintenance and paying my insurance (which, in the interest of full disclosure, is set to automatic bill pay, like my mortgage) paying my mortgage, and in keeping people safe if they ever have need of extra security.  I'm handy with sticks and knives and can shoot passably.

Likewise, I usually feed my dog, and trust me, he ain't starving.  Neither is the little potato-shaped friend of his that belongs to my room mate.  And Eleanor gets her medicine twice daily like clockwork, though admittedly, she has a team of three looking out for her: me, Grey and my friend Cathy who sometimes watches her.

No, I can be trusted with that stuff.

It is other things that quietly suck the willpower from me.  They are the kyptonite to my SuperWoman-ess.  Take ice cream, for example.  I cannot keep ice cream in the house.  Grey doesn't fully realize that yet, that if there is ice cream and it is designated "mine" that it will be eaten within a reasonable amount of time, like fifteen minutes.  He lets his JUST SIT IN THE FREEZER. For weeks!  Then it has to thaw for 30 minutes and then he eats a couple of spoonfuls. Pppthhh!  Amateur.  I take off the top off the carton the minute I get home and eat that tub for dinner.  It's a sight too, I reckon: drippings running down my fingers dripping into the sink because I eat most of my food over the sink, and occasionally snarling at the dogs as they attempt to beg for a bite.  Getting a ring around my face from sticking my whole head in to lick the sides.  That's how it's done, y'all. Not pretty, but real just the same.

Same goes for barbecue potato chips.  Pop a family size bag in the freezer and leave me to find it.  I dare you.  That Gollum-like creature in the middle of the night that smells like a picnic gone wrong? That's me pigging out on my precious.

This also goes for foods with salt and/or sugar in them.  Except for chocolate.  I'm not really a chocolate fan.  I'll eat it, don't get me wrong, but it's not my favorite.  I know.  Don't shoot.  I'm still a woman. And I'll do anything to get out of grading by doing other very important things.  Like writing a blog post. Or reading other people's blogs, like  Mike is hilarious and satirical and altogether irreverent.

Really what you cannot trust me with are caffeine and my husband.  The husband part I'll just leave alone as your guess is correct, but the caffeine part is flummoxing.

I have been drinking coffee since I was 11.  It's an aspect of my culture and my quasi-addictive nature.  We aren't talking a nice, polite, 2-cups-a-day habit either.  There have been times in my life when I have drunk 3-4 pots of coffee a day.  Pots.  Of strong coffee, not that cheap-ass 7-11 or Denny's brew.  Hot, black coffee.  Because I like it, that's all. I like coffee. It is freakin' yummy.  I thought for a time that if you cut me, you'd get half-calf.

I have tried to quit before too. Not because of health or anything, but because I don't like to be addicted to stuff.  I obsess over things: bits of music, the smell of coffee, the view from the pier in Seattle, laying my head on Grey's chest.  It's how my brain works. I like routine too. I like getting up and doing the same morning stuff because it reduces the need to think: make coffee, check email and FB, drink coffee, yawn, stretch, more coffee, yogurt, shower, teeth/hair/etc and out the door for adventures.  You know?  It's normal.  And I can occasionally skip any of those behaviors except for the teeth part.  I am ok with my addiction to a new toothbrush every month and awesome tooth paste. What I am not ok with is the need, every morning since I can remember, of having a cup of coffee.  For three quarters of my life.

When I tried to quit, I went cold turkey.  From two pots a day.  Had a headache for a month.  My personality flattened out as the incessant storm in my head raged and screamed and howled.  At work people tried to be supportive and we changed to decaf coffee.  I was cranky and even more sarcastic than normal.  For the sake of everyone, it was gently suggested on the fifth week that I had a cup of coffee already as nobody loved me anymore.

So I decided to wean off this time.  I got down to about a pot a day for a couple of years.  I don't like change.  Then half a pot, where I have hovered for even longer.  I took a deep breath and told Grey I'd like to quit coffee.  We spend a significant portion of our income on coffee and coffee products.  I have enough coffee cups to use one every day for a year and never touch the same one twice.  He is a little skeptical, though he knows I can do it. And he's great at the Pep Talk. Since he drinks stronger brew than I do, I wonder at his own ability to just say "ok" and be done with something.  Me? No soy una persona en la manana sin cafe.

Sunday, I had one cup at breakfast and one in the afternoon.  Monday, I just had one cup all day.  It was awful and I was tired.  Yesterday I had to teach and had one cup in the morning, vowing to make it all day again.  And then next week cut it to half a cup.

I made it until 2:15.  Fifteen minutes of teaching and I needed, not wanted, a shot of caffeine.  I gave in because I wanted to. Because I feared I wouldn't be a good teacher that day. Because I wanted a soda.  I drank half of it and tossed the rest.

I considered lying to Grey and saying that I had made it without coffee.  That was technically true, anyway.  But I just can't.  Lying is a slippery slope. So when we talked last night, I confessed.  At least I can be trusted with the truth- a responsibility I try to hammer in to my students.  At least I am not a hypocrite.

This morning, I took Charlotte in for a medical test that she had to have anesthesia for.  Got up at 6 a.m. with no time for coffee. Wouldn't matter anyway, I reasoned, since I purposely ran out.  I took her in and had time to kill, so I crossed to Braums and had an oatmeal and a weak cup of coffee.  I bargained with myself: don't drink all of it and have a cup of tea later.

And this tea is really damn good.  At least it's not an entire pot. Because you know I have to go grade some stuff and would like to be able to do so in coherent English.

I'll keep trying.


  1. You are brave! I think I'd hurt someone without my coke zero- its so a caffeine thing!

  2. i AM brave...and whiny... whimper..

  3. Ok fine, quit if you must, but now who will I point fingers at & tell myself, "at least I'm not as much of a caffeine freak as her!"? Seriously, though, best of luck to you! Just remember not to take the withdrawal out on that new, sweet man of yours!

  4. Good luck. I quit smoking. That was hard but now I hardly remember it. Our bodies are funny like that.