January 21, 2018

coffee

coffee mug
They're just joking.  Mostly.
Appalachian Mountain cabin.  Today, I woke before dawn, and my bleary-eyed stumbling around with my hands out, trying to find the Keurig machine, is being rewarded by an east-facing window seat, a mug of good coffee, and the softly growing light.  I’m being treated to a sunrise in the mountains.

Right now, it’s a pale French flag, a strip of pink, then almost-white, then pale blue on top.  The trees are still black silhouettes against the background of sky. 

A person could do a hell of a lot worse for bias lighting.

I suppose now I have to thank Rose for shoving her wet, eager nose into my face while I was huddled under a heavy comforter and drifting along a stream of half-dream free thought.

The sun hasn’t burst above the distant ridge line just yet.  But the moment is pregnant.

I sip my coffee.  I’m alone at this early hour, so I slurp on purpose.

When I was 19 and had finished my year at UNC Chapel Hill, my daddy, who was deeply concerned, in his detached way, about my being brainwashed and turned into a Flaming Liberal, issued a prophecy:  By the time I was 35 years old, I would be smoking cigarettes, drinking coffee, and voting Republican.  Translated, I think he meant I’d slough off my youthful assurance that I knew absolutely everything about the world (show me a 19-year-old who doesn’t), stop judging those around me and pick up some vices and bad habits that nevertheless brought me satisfaction, and come to see things as they really are (he didn't know about Lille), abandoning liberal ideologies and being a little embarrassed about ever holding them.  I recall that he repeated this prediction several times, always taking a long pull on his cigarette afterward.  He was rock-solid sure of it.

I was seven kinds of damned if I was going to let it come true.

The cigarettes have never been an issue.  I wouldn’t dream of touching one, based on my neurotic need for fresh air and a childhood memory of walking into my living room one Sunday afternoon, where both of my parents sat smoking, and seeing thick smoke curling in billows in the rays of afternoon light shining individually through the curtains.  I've been conscious of air ever since. 

I do think I voted Republican once, but it was an accident.  It was right after I turned 18 and registered to vote, when I didn’t yet understand or care about politics.  I voted just because I could, but it was a blind exercise of rights, and my only comfort there is that because of where I was living at the time, my vote didn’t really count.  And I’m not die-hard; if Colin Powell ran for President, I’d vote for him so hard.  Having said that, the proverbial team of wild horses couldn’t drag me to the Board of Elections to change my affiliation away from either Democrat or Independent.

As for the third part of the prophecy, the idea of coffee was dead to me until I was 35.  About a week after my 35th birthday, I tried it.  I learned very quickly that I required massive quantities of cream and sugar with a bit of coffee for flavoring to make it palatable, but I still loved it.

A ball of orange is gathering behind that mountain right there.  Soon.  I should put on Haydn’s “In vollem glanze” right about now (depicting the very first sunrise during the creation of the Earth).  There’s yellow growing.  And now it’s peeking, and now becoming a sphere.  I stare at it until my eyes can’t tolerate the intensity.  And now it’s highlighting the beauty of trees and rocky ridges and people sitting on their front porches in rocking chairs, greeting it as they do faithfully each day.  And illuminating my pouchy-eyed, bed-headed, bedraggled visage that hasn’t had enough coffee yet.  Nobody deserves the sight of that, not a front-porch dweller and certainly not our fiery, oft-worshiped Sol.  I relocate to the couch and continue slurping my medium-roast with hazelnut creamer.

It started with making the occasional pot at work, having one cup and offering the rest to others, who drank it.

Then my daddy got P.J. and me a Keurig for Christmas that year.  This was my downfall.  The easy access proved to be the slippery slope to my genetically-predisposed coffee addiction.

I think it qualifies as an addiction now.  I’m up to three cups of caffeinated a day, followed by a couple of decaf cups later in the day, so I can sleep at night.  A mug in the hand often helps me fight the urge to snack, as I’m also a food addict in recovery (and not doing so well with that right now, either). 

Peet’s Coffee’s Brazilian Minas Naturais is the best coffee on Earth.  This is objective fact, not a mere opinion.  Go try to prove me wrong.

I do feel guilty about the pods and when the biodegradable ones appear, I’ll pay the few extra pence for them willingly.  We throw away a respectable one-quarter shit-ton at our house on a monthly basis, easily.

There’s, er, a bit of a problem, too, which is that by no means should I be drinking this much coffee post-gastric bypass.  It makes any given “Top Ten List of What NOT TO DO FROM NOW ON UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES WHATSOEVER” prepared by bariatric nutritionists.  In addition to putting a person at high risk for developing ulcers, some of which can be life-threatening, the diuretic effect is downright dangerous.  I don’t do all that well with hydrating.  I don’t measure my water intake.  I just have some now and then, if I think about it, and hope it’s enough.  And just ignore the fact that most of the time, I get dizzy when I stand up.  I thought that decaf counted as hydration, but Nikki at Bariatric Foodie recently pointed out in a motivational e-mail that her nutritionists told her after her surgery that clear liquids do things that decaf coffee can’t, and that living off of it doesn’t count as hydrating.  The body can’t use it very well.  Maybe that’s part of why I’ve felt so lousy lately, with weak spells and general yuckiness.  Decaf has pretty much become my staple liquid.  We got a Keurig at work recently and that tipped me over the edge into wondering what water even looks like, except for the water that gets poured into the Keurig tank.  I see it now as that clear stuff that is being put to its highest and best use.  Coffee.

It’s well-known that post-surgery, food addicts will transfer onto another addiction.  Fortunately, I don’t care for the taste of alcohol, and I’m too stingy and skeptical to gamble.  Coffee is it.

Sheetz isn’t helping.  Their coffee bar is a thing of beauty.  They have a station where you can tank up a huge refillable mug for $0.89 and then visit machines that dispense sweeteners (All The Splenda), creamers and milk and half-and-half, and sugar-free flavorings.  You can mix and match and make your perfect cup, every time.  I’ve written them and suggested that they add a sugar-free non-dairy creamer, and the e-mail response, from a real human, said their Marketing Department would consider it, so that quickly became a wistful pipe dream, but whatever.  It’s still damned near ideal.  And it’s on my way to work. 

And to complicate matters even more, I’ve found scientifically that if, on some insane impulse or due to a rare coffeeless crisis, I forego my morning cuppa, it affects my mood profoundly, and I swing down hard. 

I need to get back to the main road, where I was post-surgery.  A compromise between the horrified expressions I imagine my nutritionists trying to hide and what I need to survive these days.  One cup of caffeinated Brazilian in the morning, savored, and one cup of decaf in the evening, as dessert.  It’s dessert because of Torani and Da Vinci sugar-free syrups (which you can buy here in bulk from a restaurant supply company, because fuck those little bottles in the grocery store that cost three times more than they should).  You can roll your own.  I recommend the chocolate and salted caramel, as well as the raspberry and the chai for protein shakes.  The cup of decaf was for a long time enough to provide psychological satiation after dinner.  I should probably tell my therapist.

So I find myself at the point where I must gather long-abandoned internal resources and make a commitment to do this, and to drink more of that clear liquid stuff they call “water” throughout the part of the day that will become known and measured as “the torment-riddled epoch of time when I’m between cups of coffee”.   Right now, I seem to be fresh out of Waldorfs internal resources.  I’ll find a self-help book or call them forth from raw firmament.  Or hire someone to send me daily e-mails telling me that I can’t or won’t do it.  Maybe I'll get a Despair poster for my cubicle.



“Know thyself,” said Shakespeare.

The trees have turned from shadow into lush, verdant pines.

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