Monthly Archives: October 2011

My Blood Runs Dark-Roasted


I have finally come to terms with the fact that I am a self-proclaimed coffee addict.

People of the internet, I come to you for intervention. I don’t actually want you to stop me, but friendly reminders that it’s not all there is to life and that I could be hurting my friends and family through my problem really do make me feel loved.

The real problem is, my addiction helps me save my relationships. It makes me  a better person. It helps me see what’s really important. I don’t have a problem.

I’m blowing smoke, but who could really blame me? It’s coffee. Dark-roasted, fair trade, highly caffeinated coffee. If the scent clings on my clothes, if the brown ring circles the bottom of my mug, if I  can feel the quavering in my hands that signals the kick of energy, I am in love. I’m in deep, and I’m not coming out without a fight.

I didn’t plan this addiction. As a kid, my idea of coffee was a small cup of decaf thick with whipped cream, sugar and milk – more dessert topping than coffee. It wasn’t until high school that I first began to appreciate coffee as a beverage. See, the addiction creeps in slowly and stealthily. It comes in stages, and once you learn to recognize them, you might as well follow them to the letter. There’s no fighting the obsession that will follow.

1. The Enduring –  Someone offers you a cup with dessert or at a breakfast date. You accept so as not to be rude and to seem like you’re a normal, fully-functioning adult. It’s bitter and acidic and you learn to straighten your lips and swallow it as quickly as possible without looking disgusted. But it wins you friends, makes you look like your parents and puts a little spring in your step. You could do this again. You’re a big kid who doesn’t need a bedtime.You will soon learn that you can only fully function once you’ve had your third cup in the morning.

2. The Appreciation – Coffee is a beverage dating back to the thirteenth century, maybe even earlier. It has health benefits in moderation. It makes things like baked goods and pie taste twice as delicious. It can be delicately doctored with a little cream and sugar for a lighter experience. It has a comforting smell that permeates even the most distant of hearts and when it comes down to it, it’s hot and keeps you awake. You drink it out of choice a few more times because you’ve realized that coffee isn’t hurting anyone. Coffee can be your friend. Casual friends that nod “hello” in the hallway and sometimes lean against a door frame to chat about the weather.  Coffee deserves a few props.

3. The Anticipation – You have five minutes before your next class. You just passed a Starbucks while walking to work. You happen to have a few singles in your pocket or a gift card someone sent you as a thank you gift. It’s an early morning and someone put free  doughnuts and a couple carafes of breakfast blend out on the welcome desk. It’s a blustery cold morning, you got three hours of sleep and it’s something to brighten your day. It’s just coffee. But it will soon be your coffee, and God bless the person who pours it and rests it in your gentle hands. It brings you together with friends. What’s not to love?

4. Regularity – I’m not speaking as a seventy-year-old woman, here. I mean it becomes something scheduled – you get up, you take your laptop or a book or your people-watching glasses and wander down to the local coffee shop where everyone knows your name and your regular table and your “usual”. You write and sip, you read and sip, you sit quietly and just hold the mug in your cold hands and let the gentle vapors reach up and caress your face. You take a walk in a cool, breezy fall afternoon and let the warmth enter your mouth and sink into your bones. Nothing says comfort than a cup of hot java. It becomes an event and a part of your day. You get up, make coffee, get dressed. It’s routine. Even in routine, it does not become mundane.

5. The Uncomfortable Lacking – Something is missing. The world is darker, the sky is gray, I can’t seem to form whole sentences, I can’t remember names and dates, I’m nodding off over my breakfast. I’m snapping at people for no reason, I can’t seem to open my eyes, everyone else is being a jerk today. Everyone else is inconsiderate and rude, everyone else is impatient and unkind, everyone is getting in my way and I don’t know what’s wrong with them. Has the world gone mad? That woman made me late, that man stepped on my toes on the bus and THAT YOUNG PUNK HAS A DOUBLESHOT MACCHIATO. Could he be any more inconsiderate? Who does he think he is? It’s giving me a headache.

6. The Epiphany – You get to visit the cafe for the first time in a week. You curl numb fingers around the smooth ceramic handles, the cardboard clutch, the cold steel of a double wall thermos. Inhale, melt. Inhale, blow the curling steam off the swirling surface. Delicately reach for the edge with your tongue, testing the temperature. Slowly sip. Melt. Sink deep into your chair and exhale all the stress and fear of the week. Float away on golden cherub’s wings, feel the glowing kiss of wholesome sunlight on your cheek, hear the swelling song of a thousand angels….
Oh dear.
This entire time, you blamed it on PMS and bad karma and traffic and weather and the economy. It was the coffee. This whole time, the missing piece was just a few inches away, rich and brown and whole bean. It did this to you, and it had no qualms about it. It was proud to do it. You went like a lamb to slaughter.

7. Acceptance/Pride –  Instead of being upset at the suddenly realization that you need coffee every morning to blossom into a beautiful, mature adult mind-flower, you can’t blame the coffee. You could never blame the coffee. The sacred fluid of life, the drink that brings the dawn, it is the last place you’d ever turn to with anger and spite. Now that jerk who cut you off in traffic, he had it coming. But coffee never did anything bad to anyone. No one ever started a war or killed a man or ruined themselves over coffee. It’s innocent in all of this. Despite the money you’ll spend and the paraphernalia you’ll purchase and the late nights you’ll have until you die, you come to terms with the fact that you don’t need the gift of coffee, but you want it and crave it and cannot live without it.

Eventually, this acceptance will bloom into a percolating pride and you will carry your signature mug in your hand to every social function, breakfast meeting and movie night. You take your coffee straight and hard and you can handle it. When someone asks for cream and sugar, you let slip a scoffing laugh and set your mug heavily on the counter (never slamming, you don’t want to risk cracking it) with a look that says “Fill ‘er up, and leave no room for anything except my face”. You are a coffee drinker in any form, you swear by the power of Joe and you’ll preach the good word to the weary and heavy-laden. In Joe, you won’t find rest, but you will find the energy to keep going until you’re either worn to a frazzled crisp or hooked up to a constant espresso drip. You’ll make it work, you and coffee side-by-side, fighting the for the listless and lackluster. You are defined by what you drink, and you are a drinker of coffee.

Tall, grande, latte, capuccino, mocha, Red Eye, Americano, one shot or two, you speak the language and you live the life.

Whether kafes, koohi, kahvi, or  咖啡, I invite my brethren to raise a mug to the drink that keeps us sane, happy, and awake, even late. Drink deep, and drink well.

SALUD!

The Truth

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Days Like This


Nothing is more refreshing than waking up well rested, sunlight twinkling below the blinds and dancing on the floor. The sheets are warm, the pillow is soft, and the body is relaxed. What better way to begin a week than to wake up like this and then bake a hot breakfast?

The smell of freshly-baked sweet scones and dripping coffee make my entire apartment smell like a home. Even when a chilly October gust leaks through the crooked sill of my kitchen window, the room is warm and rich with scents and sounds and comfort. Birds sing thanks for the new seed on the deck.

Wrapped in the fleece of my dearest Matt and padding along the hallway in worn slippers, it’s the first time I will be ready to leave the house ahead of schedule. Weather.com is insistently assuring me that it will be WINDY (when they don’t put up a picture of the weather, they mean it.) So, it’s a sweater day despite the glowing sun. No bother, I have hot coffee and a warm scone and a crisp Winesap apple, right off the tree.

My walk is decorated with golden leaves and the babbling creek. The wind is cool but not cold, and the sun is warm but not hot. Moderation seems to be the theme of the day, especially since I managed to limit myself to only two scones.

Chapel is full of good friends and friendly faces. The speaker was good, the company familiar and the time well-spent.

My Monday schedule provides some leniency and a calm  transition from October break.

It’s funny how I can write a post so fragmentary when my heart is so full of joy. It’s strange how detachment can allow me to look back at my morning and see the delight in it while being so matter-of-fact. Yesterday, I fought my way back to Houghton in pouring rain and darkness and was rewarded with Matt waiting for me with dinner. Tonight I’m celebrating being Artist of the Week and an open schedule by attempting my first meatloaf dinner. If we can’t delight in the small things, life will become dark and dull very fast.

It’s days like this that remind me why I’m alive.