Hello. My name is Steve Ransom, and I am still a drug addict. It has been 25 minutes since my last drink. Yes, I confess, after 30 days clean, without a drop, I decided that it was time to find out what happens when I finally have coffee again. Today, is Consumption Day.
This was all planned in advance of course, and is totally necessary, legitimate research; vital work in concluding the great coffee quitting experiment. It’s not just me caving like a Chinese coal mine at the first vaguely plausible opportunity.1
The first thing I noticed when I drove the wagon down to my favourite cafe and fell off, was a huge surge of excitement at the idea of having the coffee. I have never, at any time in the last 25 years, gone anywhere near this long without coffee. This moment has been approaching tsunami like (hard to notice from a distance, but overpowering when it finally hits you) for days now; pretty much from the moment I first conceived Consumption Day.
At the risk of appearing to need some serious therapy, this morning I almost cried as I was telling a friend about my up coming reunion with my beautiful, beloved, dopamine inducing, drug of choice. I think it’s fair to say that I’ve truly, deeply loved my coffee.
But you know what? I think that coffee and I may not have a healthy relationship…you know, one in which we both grow with mutual respect and understanding, getting our respective needs met and blah blah relationship babble relationship babble, because!, after 30 days without and now having had just one cup, I’m seeing bad signs.
As we speak, there’s a chainsaw going outside the building in which I’m trying to write this post. Few people would describe this noise as melodic admittedly, but I appear to be the only one in the room who’s contemplating commandeering it, and using it to vivisect its former operator. It seriously sounds like they’re filming a remake of Texas Chainsaw Massacre out there. What kind of an idiot starts chainsawing like a maniac right outside someone’s work space at 10 in the morning? Sure there’s a fallen tree over the road blocking traffic in both directions, but for god’s sake let’s be reasonable here and cut it up with a hand saw… or a high-powered electric toothbrush or something.
I’m also deeply sad to report, that the flavour of the coffee was not as wonderful as I remembered it. True, I did remember it as being orgasm inducing, but now I’m wondering if perhaps I’d built it up a little too much to in my mind. I didn’t even want a second cup, which is weird as hell and waaay out of character.
I remember the first time I asked to try a sip of my Dad’s coffee. Even then, at maybe age 8, I recognised the hype around the bean juice. I’d noticed my Dad’s ritual of drinking it every morning, and I was excited to try it for myself. He agreed (I seem to recall the tiniest ‘this oughtta be good’ look flashing across his face) and short story short, it tasted absolutely vile! Admittedly it was instant coffee, so it was absolutely vile, but I was completely astounded at the time.
The incongruities of addiction look odd to kids. I had assumed that anything consumed with such enthusiasm, must taste absolutely wonderful; otherwise, what’s the point? I mean, orange juice tastes good too right, but no one gets all religious and ritualistic about that. Why do it every single day, without fail? Anyone who can honestly remember their first sip of beer (everyone does this as a kid right?) will recall their shock upon tasting something akin to fermented horse urine with a twist of blue cheese. Sure you eventually get to like the taste, but were the desire to get buzzed not imperative, you’d spit that shit across the room, flush the remainder down the toilet, and never touch another drop.
Another effect I’m noticing that may be from the coffee, is that I’m writing very fast, whilst becoming increasingly annoyed by the slowness of my tablet.2 This always bugs me, but is bugging me more than usual I think, and seriously goddamn it I just wannta shove that chainsaw up that guy’s ass so bad. The noise is just going straight into my brain…relentless, grinding, hideous noise of nightmares. I don’t imagine I’d especially relish the idea of working next to a chainsaw at full throttle when I’ve not had coffee, but I think it’s no coincidence that this is happening now, after coffee. To be more precise, I’m not surprised that there is some unbearable hideous noise affecting me now, while I’m trying to work, and that’s making it impossible for me to work, coincidently just after I’ve had coffee, because I know that coffee makes me less tolerant to noise.
Ok, I moved to a different room. Let’s see what happens now. Another thing I’ve noticed is that I have jumped around the page a bit while writing this. I started the paragraph above re my first sip of coffee, and left it unfinished before moving on. Maybe this is a good way to work, I don’t know – it’s counterintuitive though. My sentences are coming out faster, but are going down in a less polished state than usual. This may also be a good thing. Far more typos that I have not bothered to fix as I type are appearing because I don’t want to ruin my flow by slowing down.
The 20ish kid at the table next to me seems to be some sort of retard, incapable of resting his leg on a stool without kicking it repeatedly first, making an intensely annoying clanging noise each time. Not that I’m counting, but that’s three times now. You’re gonna find life pretty challenging if you can’t manage to successfully rest your leg on a stool. I’d hate to see him try to walk for example, but maybe he’s got some kind of special helmet that he wears for tasks requiring such advanced motor skills.
Mentally, I think it’s safe to say I feel a bit edgy, but physically, I don’t feel much different to my coffee free state. My heart rate seems a bit elevated perhaps,3 I’ve got a slight headache…I think, though it’s very mild. Maybe it’s psychosomatic, or maybe I’ve burst a blood vessel wishing slow death to Mr. Chainsaw out there. My eyes feel a bit dry and twitchy, but I’m wearing contacts, so that is possibly normal. My stomach feels a little funny, but here (in Indonesia) it often does. I’m getting annoyed at the inability of this keyboard to keep up with my fingers, and at the huge number of typos that it’s producing. I also seem to be blaming an inanimate object for my errors, which is never a good sign.
All in all, I’m a bit underwhelmed by the coffee. It could never have lived up to the hype I know, but disappointingly I don’t feel euphoric from the elevated dopamine levels that the caffeine should be producing. I haven’t even felt a slight elation, which I really hoped I would after 30 days with no coffee. I expected that my tolerance would have gone way down, and I’d feel buzzed. I’m actually wondering if the barrista gave me decaf by mistake. Physically I feel a bit less well that usual, but it’s very minor, and it may just be coincidence and not be related to the coffee at all. I do feel that I was able to write this post relatively quickly, and noticed my ideas flowing easily, but speed of word production is not a benefit unless the quality of the words produced is also high, and I’m not the best person to judge this due to obvious objectivity deficit.
If the upside to drinking coffee is improved writing,4 and the only downside is a liiiittle annoyance at noise (I wasn’t really going to kill the retarded kid or the Texas Chainsaw guy), I’m not sure a cost benefit analysis would come out in favour of abstinence.
Ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation.
It’s now been 24 hours since I had my coffee, and about 20 since I finished the above post. Ignoring the acknowledged objectivity deficit problem in this kind of analysis, I’m not convinced that my writing was any better for the coffee. It may have come out faster, but it was decidedly more messy, the tenses were all over the place, and frankly, it needed a lot of fixing up to get it to the point where I could publish it.
My fear is that maybe the ideas would not have come without the coffee, or that different ideas may have come that were not as good. Maybe coffee induced words are neither better or worse, just different. I think that I shall never now.
I cannot help upon reading my coffee fueled words, noticing that the stress in my voice is quite apparent, as is a somewhat negative tone…if you call threatening people with death to be somewhat negative. But this is not the real problem, ’cause that’s kind of funny if I’m honest. The problem is the associated stress and the simmering tension, which I think continued for quite some time post coffee.5 Even now 24 hours later, I feel a little exhausted (of energy), short (on patience) and low (in mood). But is that from the coffee? Or is that because I was up till 1am? Would I have gone to bed before 1am if I’d not had the coffee? I think that I shall never know.
But having edited this post and rewritten parts of it without coffee, and having seen that good ideas do come, and having seen the mess of yesterday’s writing contrasted with the methodical completeness and cleanliness of todays writing; I think I’m pretty safe to say that my writing is not significantly better with coffee.6
So coffee my longtime friend, my solace, my passion, my comfort, my burden; it is time we said goodbye. I’ll miss you for sure, but perhaps not as much as I thought I would, for our love was often a one-sided affair, and as you gaveth with one hand, so you tooketh with the other.
- No offence intended to the Chinese, or to the families of any dead Chinese coal miners, but you know…it’s a bit funny, and what have we got if we can’t laugh? Plus I blatantly stole this line from here. ↩
- Yes, I’ve written this entire blog on a tablet, though recently I’ve added a little blue tooth keyboard. It’s been a nightmare…I don’t want to talk about it. ↩
- Heart rate is at 66bpm right now. For resting, that might be a bit higher than normal. I’ll count it again in about 24 hours to see for sure. ↩
- In Steve’s Masochistic Coffee Quitting Experiment Day 2, I discovered that just about every writer in the universe claims that drinking coffee improves their work. Some even go so far as to say it’s the only reason they can work. ↩
- For anyone who’s interested, my heart rate now is 66, so no difference at all when compared to yesterday when I was on coffee. ↩
- I think there is an experiment to be done to see if perhaps coffee can help me to come up with a left field kind of idea when I’m stuck for an idea, or perhaps to get me writing when I’m lacking inspiration. ↩