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Friday, July 6, 2012

Coffee Chronicles—Part 1



I’ve spent most of my life trying to overcome an addiction. Yes, that’s right.  If I don’t get my morning “joe” I’m pretty useless. 

I’m not just talking about adult years here. It’s been that way since I was about thirteen years old. When I started to think about the “Big Questions” of life.


I don’t know which was chicken and which was egg. We were talking about morning and breakfast, weren’t we? But back to the coffee. Does that fabled delicious beverage with its wonderful aroma and now, we learn, over 1,000 beneficial compounds, lead to mental focus and contemplation of philosophy questions? Or did I need the jolt of caffeine that coffee provides when I entered the netherworld of adolescence? 

Teenagers’ sleep cycles reportedly rage, just as their hormones do, during those transitional years. In fact, while some experts say teenagers still need 9 to 10 hours of sleep a night, adolescents' body rhythms swerve into sleep cycles more attuned to blood-sucking vampires than the happy teenagers of “Pleasantville.” So, of course they need caffeine to get their sleep-deprived bodies moving before noon. 

I’ve hear it said the Renaissance burst forth fully formed from the Dark Ages upon the introduction of coffee. Geez, that makes so much sense. Prior to coffee and tea, Europeans, without a ready source of safe water, had been drinking alcohol to meet their fluid needs. Can you imagine creating great art and stumbling upon amazing scientific breakthroughs when you hadn’t had your morning coffee?

But enough about history. Let’s talk about the monkey on my back. The problem with any addiction is the initial dose no longer satisfies. So where one cup use to provide that initial reassuring wake up and caffeine rush, after a short while, I’m stumbling around until I’ve had the third of fourth cup of java.

Back when coffee was one of those beverages you were supposed to limit, if you were not one of the blessed teetotalers, I tried to limit my consumption to one or two daily cups. Then with the craving, the creeping numbers of cups climbed higher into the high single, or dare I say, double-digits, to satisfy. Also, periodically, to get the addiction under control again, I would go cold turkey and just wallow in full-on caffeine withdrawal. And I suffered. I won’t even mention the nine months of each pregnancy where I suffered through caffeine withdrawal. I will say natural childbirth was a breeze compared to facing mornings without coffee. There, I didn’t mention that pregnancy thing at all.

So now, all of a sudden, imagine my surprise when the experts come out and claim their research shows coffee drinkers live longer than non-coffeistas, all other things being equal.

SO NOW I JUST NEED TO CONSIDER, IN MY HIGHLY-CHARGED, CAFFEINATED-RENAISSANCE MINDSET, HOW TO PEEL MYSELF OFF THE CEILING. DID I MENTION MY “CUP” IS A GIANT, FILLED-TO-THE-THE-BRIM MUG?

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