caffeine, and other addictions

A year ago, my lovely doc told me to quit drinking caffeine because it can affect Crohn’s disease (which I have). “I don’t drink coffee, tea, or soda, and I don’t like hot drinks,” I replied, my smug and near-snobby tone a well-honed product of my years spent as a teenage girl.

Then, three things happened. These three things intermingled with my sporadic insomnia and genetically addictive personality . (Which can be both good and bad, for the record: it’s easy for me to develop a habit, like setting alarms for writing and drinking spinach smoothies every morning, but then I also panic when I A) don’t go to the gym, B) open a new container of Nutella, or C) accidentally overindulge on French wines or vodka.)

A portion of my daily breakfast – a blend of spinach, water, 5 frozen strawberries, and 1/2 cup of frozen blueberries. This was my St. Patrick’s edition.

The three things that damned my caffeine intake:

  1. I quit – ok, cut back – on my 5 Hour Energy dependency.
  2. I increased the hours I spend working at home.
  3. I went to Europe.

“We won’t be able to sit in cafés in Paris and drink coffee together,” my new husband says to me while we’re boarding the flight to go to on our honeymoon. He actually sighed after saying that and looked away.

Me, grumpy and trying not to act cranky at 8 a.m. Paris time. Attempting to last a full day without sleeping after a redeye from Boston. (I do not know the woman in the background.)

My trainer says that you can do anything you don’t like for 15 seconds. I like this philosophy a lot. You say to yourself, “I can do anything for 15 seconds,” latch on to the mental state, and stay there. Then, you can get blood drawn, fit in a couple of push-ups while your arms are burning, pretend to act interested in a boring conversation, sprint at the end of your run, and even touch raw chicken… only for 15 seconds. Then you’re done.

Which is how I came to drink espresso. It’s so little that my hot drink distaste is over, with about 15 seconds of discomfort.

Back in the States, I decided to apply my newfound dependency to cold beverages. I read this article about the benefits of green tea, which is mild enough for me to drink. Coupled with my insane jealousy of people who cart Starbucks around like second cell phones (which has been developing for approximately 10 years), I settled on the Tazo Zen brand of tea, which basically tastes like mildly minty water. I believe I am very lucky I’m not a decade older, because then I’d definitely have a cigarette habit. The D.A.R.E. program must have diminished the sexy “cigarettes are cool” vibe effectively enough.

And then, like a true addict, I needed more.

Single shot of espresso, trente iced green tea.

For the last month, I’ve found myself holding my nose and chugging three cups (!) of hot coffee per day , before brewing two to four mugs of tea that I ice down and consume over the next several hours, while writing and working. And I have no idea . Is this a lot? A little? Aren’t I supposed to get a headache at some point? Is it magically helping me get more work done, or is this my imagination? I’d drink espresso, but I’m pretty sure those machines are expensive, right?

Thought I might get some responses after @BostonMo threw me an RT. Maybe they thought I was joking.

7 thoughts on “ caffeine, and other addictions

  1. Brian B. King (BKnovelist)

    There are days at wok where I have chugged 5-7 cups of tea. I don’t know when it’s too much, other than when the tremors occur and kidneys throbs, and than I just drink more water. I don’t drink that much tea all of the time though. Only when I’ve gotten 2-3 hours of sleep.

    1. J. F. Smith Post author

      Sometimes when I only get 2-3 hours of sleep I’m more awake (with an historic crash later on). But seriously, what’s the limit?

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