Journey of a Late Coffee Bloomer

With a lover’s voice
it calls to me; willingly
I follow, unmoored.
————————————————–

I have been caffeine free since around 1995. It was at that time I decided 10 or so cans of Diet Coke a day couldn’t possibly be good for me, so I stopped drinking them and changed exclusively to water and the occasional OJ. Then, about a year ago, in our annual trek to Georgia for Thanksgiving, I ordered coffee to assist me in the late day/night drive.

image from Wikipedia

Wow. When caffeine isn’t part of your life, re-entry has quite an impact. I was up until 2am that morning, having safely made the 9 hour journey with nary a yawn. I made a strategic choice starting then: to use caffeine, specifically coffee, in a pharmaceutical capacity to aid my attentiveness and productivity.

It was amazing. One cup of coffee plus a clear few hours on my calendar resulted in tremendous output. I was able to rebound from sleep-shortened nights quickly.  Sure, I picked up the habit of tapping out a complex drum solo on my desk while reading, and my kids likely noticed that the “after high” was not the best time to be around me. But I could control it. I could turn it off and on.

Or could I? I am now drinking one to two cups a day and I’m ashamed. I feel like I’ve succumbed to a lover from the wrong side of the tracks… the kind good girls like me are attracted to in a “he would never look at me with those brooding eyes but if he did I know I could rock his world” and then “I could change him so that everyone could see that he has a heart of gold” kind of way.  I’ve kept up with my “I use coffee medicinally only” story,  trying to pretend that I’m still caffeine free since 1995, but it’s a lie. I love the burst of speed I get. I love the clarity. I love the little ritual at the Starbucks at work (we have one in the lobby) where I wait patiently to add my cream and 2 Splendas to my coffee. I don’t do anything but a plain cup of brew, as I lack the experience or nerve to take the relationship further. And I refuse to call the small size “tall” out of principle. Otherwise, I feel cool for the first time ever, all because of a drink.

There is only one downside: the vacating colon 90 minutes in. This is not something they talk about in the commercials… there is great marketing synergy there: a joint advertising campaign between Folgers and Charmin, perhaps. Not sure why they don’t test that one out. (The best part of waking up, is Folgers in your cup… and Charmin in the john…)  My coffee habit beginnings coincided with a change of assignment at work, so I’m in a new building with new bathroom rituals (long-suffering followers of this blog well know my fascination with bathrooms and the behaviors and etiquette therein).  So the exploding colon bit has been a little difficult to maneuver.  The good news is that the bathroom is much closer to my office. The bad news is twofold: open offices and only 2 stalls. Do you know how hard it is to disguise the butt-pucker shuffle in cube land?  It’s hard enough to make yourself look normal from the waist up, when passing closed offices with small-windowed doors, but open offices afford the full body view and the quick-paced bottom-tuck position is incredibly noticeable. The only good news is that since people don’t really know me, they might have just assumed I happened to have an unusual gait. And since I’ve varied my flight path unpredictably, and so many people work from home, I’m counting on no one really paying that much attention. The two stall issue is one I just have to suffer through… don’t ask.

So with all these data points — increased productivity and output on one side, colon health (a different type of output) and public embarrassment on the other side — I’m at a cross roads. Should I continue my caffeine-aided lifestyle and just live with the downsides?  Or return to the land of the self-righteous and caffeine free (and slightly less productive)?  I can already see that one to two cups isn’t going to work much longer. Today, my one cup after lunch couldn’t overcome a coma-inducing lunch… So what’s next? A regular second or third cup each day? Where do I stop?

I think I have my answer. I must go back… go back and find that energy source I had before I starting experimenting. The one that exists naturally within me and doesn’t require stealth tactics in my gastrointestinal rituals. I already feel my self-esteem slipping away, as I move away from, as usual, the “in-crowd”, back to the land of the unique and self-proclaimed happy-I’m-different group. I know that is where I belong… but it was good while it lasted.

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Mortified (more bathroom escapades)

My life’s up and downs,
I manage with ease; but one –
leaves me stunned, staggered.
—————————————————
I recently posted about my musings while in the bathroom. It isn’t as gruesome as you might imagine, rather a series of observations and questions that have come to me while attending to nature. Suffice it to say that I pay attention while in the bathroom.

So, let me relay a recent occurrence that I am still a little shaky about. There I was, in the last stall, when I felt the seat drop, significantly, even though I remained still. Shortly after that, I heard a flushing sound, not from the toilet next to me, but the one behind me… through the wall… in the men’s room that abuts the ladies. (!)

Oh my god… The shift downward of my toilet… no… it couldn’t be… it happened – please say it isn’t so –  when my through-the-wall comrade stood up, having completed his business.

Eww…. Our toilets were somehow linked through the wall. We were back to back — way too close for me. And our toilets made… a toilet teeter-totter.

Double ewww.  How shoddy is the construction at my work that I could feel him depart? How do they hang the toilets on the wall such that this is possible? Will I ever, ever be able to use that bathroom again? (See the other post; I’m running out of places I feel comfortable going…).

Later that night, I was telling Frank about this (when you’ve been married as long as us, you’ve pretty much run out of things to talk about, so you have to dig kinda deep). And then it hit me. The unthinkable. If I felt my seat drop when he got up, then… (I can’t even think it let alone type it)… then he must have pitched up a few inches when I plopped down, none too delicately, I’m sure.

One hundred times ewwwww. What must that other person have thought when moments from finishing up, he felt that upward movement of the seat? Did he realize what happened or was he in the home stretch such that he wasn’t paying attention?  Me, at the realization?  I doubled over in agony, in despair, in complete and total embarrassment. It didn’t matter that he was a stranger. I am forever changed, forever mortified.

Seriously, now I really can’t ever use that bathroom again. It’s going to be a long summer.

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