10 March, 2010

Tea versus Coffee versus Random Acts of Self-Discipline (Deprivation)

I don't know why it is.

Until March of 2006, I never drank hot beverages. Honestly. I know that's hard to believe. I was 37 years old, and I had probably had fewer than 5 cups of coffee in my life. I had never been much for tea either. Heck, I am not even a fan of soup, except perhaps a good tomato cream soup, with lots of parmesan and some crackers.

In March of 2006, I went to Europe. The time shift, some latent depression that was lurking in the wings, and the cultural shift, led me to deem it appropriate to start consuming coffee. I needed it to function. And I suspected/knew, that with enough sugar and milk, anything tastes good. I recall the first time I had a cup of extremely strong Parisian coffee with my friend Lisa, I found myself running to the bathroom, not five minutes after finishing it.

It was my first experience with the age-old pearl of celestial wisdom: "Caffeine makes me poop".

Of course, so do Heritage Flakes, but on a slightly longer time scale.

After the trip to Europe, my coffee consumption was fixed into habit. I suddenly understood the social aspect of "getting coffee with someone". It became a bonding thing. It became a ritual that was apparently long understood by everyone else, yet somehow foreign to me. The drink of choice has gone through a few different permutations, depending on the degree to which I have allowed myself to indulge in the joyful part, as opposed to the purely stimulatory part.

2% Vanilla Latte... (joy)
Americano... (less joy)
2% Caramel Latte... (almost too much joy)
Drip... (self-deprivation, and/or thriftiness)

And eventually, it comes to... stop. No coffee.

It's happened several times now. I have either allowed myself to creep up from one cup per day, to one in the morning and another in the afternoon. And eventually, I have a cup (usually drip, usually bad) that turns my stomach and my spirit, just so, such that I decide "No more coffee".

And just like that, I am off coffee.

Usually for the first week, I will ply myself with ibuprofen so that I don't get any caffeine headaches. And then I'm fine. This has happened on at least four or five occasions. And I'm in the middle of such a "recess" presently. Well, sort of. Because part of my caffeine abstention always allows for the social weekend coffee. I'm not that into being miserable.

This last time was a bit more of an extreme withdrawal, because I decided to throw away caffeinated beverages of all forms. I had been augmenting my coffee intake with Diet Pepsi (which, ironically, I find kind of revolting, but it was more "interesting" than water, though seemed to have no real stimulatory effect). The soda was making me feel sickly as well. So I eliminated it all.

And in my last stride toward becoming completely feeble, I decided maybe I should drink tea. So now, it's 1-2 cups of English Teatime (with sugar), for the small amount of caffeine that it provides.

We'll see how long it lasts.

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