My inner coward,
revealed, welcomes you to join;
Judgment optional.

non·cha·lant: adjective \ˌnän-shə-ˈlänt; ˈnän-shə-ˌlänt, -lənt\

Definition of NONCHALANT: having an air of easy unconcern or indifference

The word nonchalant is a beautiful word. First, it sounds French, which makes me sound instantly cool. Second, I can spell it, which doesn’t happen often for words exceeding two syllables. And third it is almost onomatopoetic, which is a word I can’t spell but can pronounce.

Let me share some things that I am nonchalant about.

1. Missing a turn while driving.
2. Whether my kids eat dessert with dinner or after dinner.
3. The 10 feet in front of me on the road; go ahead, take it.
4. Coffee

Some things I am decidedly not nonchalant about.

1. Snakes. We will not have one in our house, ever.
2. Bathrooms. See my collected works on the subject.
3. My hair. I’m hair involved. There, I said it.
4. Earthquakes.

Wow, why earthquakes you might ask? Because yesterday I was freaking in one!!! And apparently, in Costa Rica, the number one thing people are nonchalant about is earthquakes. This was not a tiny one. It lasted easily 30 seconds. It rumbled and shook the room quite nicely. Immediately after, upon reflection,  I decided to leave my room, passport/phone/credit cards in hand, and spend a little time outside on the off chance than being inside wasn’t a good idea.

I was alone.

No one else gave a crap.  They laughed in the hotel bar. They were not spilling into the streets, peering up into the sky waiting for the building to crumble. They did not suffer from flashbacks to 1970’s disaster movies about fire or airplanes or natural disasters. They are, it seems, Latin. I am, painfully and obviously, white.

Well, I don’t care. I have decided that earthquakes have taken over the number one spot of things I’m worried about that I can’t control. Number two is tornados, but at least Jim Cantore calls me to let me know when one is coming. When they make an “Earthquake Notify” service, then I can reorder my irrational fears again.  In the meantime, please join me outside.

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.

%d bloggers like this: