Monday, March 08, 2004

How sad is this: the great excitement today is that it’s a sunny, almost windless day, even up in Brooklyn, and this gives me the opportunity to indulge in an orgy of clothes and bedding washing. Not only is the weather improbably good; no one else is home and the clothes line is empty. I’ve already washed and hung out pretty much my entire wardrobe and am now moving on to my sheets, pillowcases, duvet and duvet cover. It gives me an almost physical pleasure – since they closed down the Brooklyn launderette, being able to dry our washing within one day is a rare and precious thing. All things are relative.

Meanwhile, I seem to have now gone almost 48 hours without a cup of coffee, which must be something of a record. It’s been more inadvertent than anything; I ran out of plunger coffee last Sunday and didn’t buy any more. Then yesterday I slept in late, was somewhat hungover, and faffed around the house until I made it down to the Brooklyn shops at tea time to get fish and chips. So I find myself this morning still coffee-less. I certainly feel like I want some, but the world’s not ending yet. Last night I even went pretty much straight to sleep. So maybe there’s something in this “limiting your caffeine intake” thing…

I try and trace the beginnings of my truly massive coffee habit, and I suspect it dates back to the last carnival I worked at in Miami before coming back to New Zealand. Back then, James and Rick got me hooked on the café cubano; we would buy "una colada" and drink it in thimblefuls. Café cubano is made by pouring a quadruple-shot espresso into a cup directly onto several spoonfuls of sugar. They call it “liquid cocaine”, and it did have almost miraculous powers of rejuvenating the most beat and trash-tired carnival worker. Even just prior to that, in Guatemala, I can recall enjoying my morning coffee, but not feeling the need to have another and another, like I do now at work. I could maybe blame the carnival experience for the subconscious certainty that what I need if I’m feeling listless and jaded is just one more cup. But I suspect the real reason for the compulsion to chain-drink coffee is the crushing ennui created by your common-and-garden sedentary job. Coffee assuages this; it provides an instant little narcotic kick, gives you an excuse to get out of your chair and go for a (purposeful) walk, and it’s something to pick up and put in your mouth from time to time. I do usually try and make 1 or 2 pm the cutoff for coffee ingestion, but what interferes with that resolution is if there’s an afternoon meeting. Meetings are a bit of a bete noire for me; I find I have to bring a cup of coffee as a crutch against the dread and nausea they provoke.

Of course it all goes in a vicious circle. It’s got to the point where not even excessive amounts of exercise will send me quickly to sleep – I lie there physically exahusted with my brain fretting and worrying. About what? It isn’t sure. But it must fret, preferably about several poorly-defined things at once. And then the next day the whole process starts again. I’ve never really considered making a concerted effort to break the cycle, though. Coffee is my friend; I like at least part of how it makes me feel. I’m not sure that cutting down or even cutting it out would transform me into the kind of person who leaps out of bed at 7:00 am and works through their day in a measured, efficient way. There are worthier things to focus my limited supply of will-to-power on.

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