Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Oh, Coffee Day

Hi.  My name is Shan.  I'm an addict.

*together now*  Hi Shan!

When I was a grade schooler, Mom used to very rarely let us drink coffee.  Her version of coffee for us kids was about 2/3 milk, probably way too much sugar and a little coffee.  I loved it.  After she and my dad divorced, I can't recall coffee ever being made in the home.  We were hot tea drinkers.

The first job I had where coffee making was involved happened when I was early 20's.  I worked at a machine shop as a job coach for adults with developmental disabilities.  Making coffee wasn't part of my job, but since I occasionally had a cup, it seemed fair that I should make some, too.  Plus it was extremely easy.  The coffee was pre-measured and the machines were actually hooked up to the waterlines.  All I had to do was change the filter, add coffee, flip the switch and wait a nano-second to get my cup filled. 

I'm pretty sure angels sang, "Laa haaaaaa!"

My next job was as doing vocational assessments.  Over the span of five years, I went from drinking coffee once or twice a month to two cups a day, plus the occasional "coffee zing" from down the street.  (Not familiar with a coffee zing?  It's chocolate and coffee ice creams, with pieces of brownies, milk and coffee... my mouth is watering and that place has been closed for about 8 years.)  With a standard pot, I finally learned how to make coffee for real.  A coworker gave me her little pot to use at home, and I could do that, too.

I should probably mention that I have a history of heart palpitations.  Once they were so bad that things actually went black and I saw stars.  Caffeine's not really recommended for a person like me.  Additionally, I am generally hyper-sensitive to the effects of caffeine, meaning that I become really hyper and act like a damn fool.

When my daily habit started creeping up to three cups a day, I knew it was time to give it up.  So I did.  For three weeks.

You know how it is with addicts; something happens and they fall off the wagon.  So it was.  I think the wagon might have rolled over me a few times.

My office was slowly being dismantled.  First we lost our student worker.  The GED teacher gave notice and headed off to New York.  Then two of our examiners were chopped.  The axe finally fell on the rest of us by the end of that spring.  Only one coworker, Carrie, and I had bumping rights.  As single mothers, we regretted having to force someone else out of work, but had to protect our kids first (fortunately, neither of us caused actual unemployment... "just" havoc).  After several weeks in limbo, and with a massive packing up of our offices before us, I finally broke down and had my first cup of coffee in three weeks. 

Then another.

I couldn't sit in my seat for longer than a minute or two, and could definitely not talk slower than that guy from the old Federal Express commercials.

*cue phone ringing*

Carrie (she was our receptionist):  Shannon, it's for you.  Jackie somebody.  I think she's from XYZ.  She could be your new boss!"  I spent about .5 seconds doing what were supposed to be some deep cleansing breaths before answering.

As six years have passed since that conversation, I don't recall all of the details.  I do recall coming off as almost excited about everything (which I wasn't), and having to force myself to slow down.  I gave some lame-assed excuse like, "I can tell this is a shock for you, and I understand.  But we've been dealing with this in some form for four months, so I'm probably at a different place in the grieving process."

***I don't normally spew that sort of stuff, but it was all based in reality and it did seem to keep our conversation more positive than not.

During the economic boom, I was eventually sucked into the Starbucks community.  I was there at least once a week because one of my sign classes happened at one.  It turned out that Nance was a pretty big fan of Starbucks, too, so we frequented them together.

Baristas at no fewer than seven Starbucks knew our faces, our orders and frequently, our names.  One of them, Ed, said that I looked like Nicole Kidman (I've heard it before, too, but have to say that the resemblance could have only been fleeting (and non-existent now).  We heard rumors about Ed; that he'd been a host of Fear Factor in the UK and whatnot.  We knew he was married with a lovely wife he adored and twins on the way.  We were surprised, but not shocked when he suddenly showed up on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.

***I ran into him and his family a few months after his hand was injured on the show.  Not only had it been quite a while since I'd seen him, I was out of context.  He had no clue who I was.  I became that person when I said... in front of his wife, child and some other adults, "You said I look like Nicole Kidman, remember?"  Pardon me while I vomit in my mouth a little.

As soon as I figured I might be pregnant with Mad, I quit caffeine altogether.  That meant no coffee, no iced tea, no chocolate.  For a baby I can do what I won't do for myself.  At Starbucks I switched to a vanilla steamer (hot milk with vanilla).

As the nation's economy has tanked, so have our own wallets tightened.  Nance has discovered that she loves McDonald's coffee.  I don't go there on principle... and because the Quarter Pounder with Cheese might actually win.  Plus, they don't make decaf drinks.

Corey and I have rediscovered the joy that can come from a well "brewed" gas station "cappuccino" machine.  For what my drink used to cost at Starbucks, he and I can each get something yummy.  However, they don't have steamed milk at gas stations, and I've found that the existence of decaf is hit or miss.  Plus I now have to leave  at 6:15, whereas before we moved, I was getting up at 6:45.

Coffee, oh coffee, wherefore art thou?

We have been trying to save more money lately, so even gas station coffee is out most of the time.  A few days a week I brew a pot at home.  Since I've got a full-sized pot now, I'm having a hard time figuring out how much coffee to put in for a half-pot.  Every once in a while, Tom will pick up a four-pack of bottled Frappuccinos.  I love him more every time.

Yesterday I didn't brew.  And I forgot the Frappuccino.  I remembered while I was still in our neighborhood, but I figure our neighbors already think we are the forgettingest people out there, so I refused to go back.  The good gas station coffee is about three miles away and across the freeway from us.  Not too far out of the way (just the across-the-freeway-and-back part), but would require pulling Mad from her seat.

I haven't had much luck lately buying coffee down the hill.  It's all funky and weird or downright bad.  Trying to recall where I'd enjoyed gas station coffee years back I recalled that Arco was always good.  I don't go there because the gas is bad, but in a coffee emergency?  Hey, I'm there!

I didn't try it until I was out of the lot and heading to my office.  There was no time to go back when I realized it was awful!  I consoled myself with thoughts of the admittedly bitter coffee at work.

By the time I hit the pots, the coffee was cold.  Like freezing cold.  I'm not sure if it was left out from the night before or if something had happened to the machine (we are forever going through coffee makers).

No coffee for me.  Add to it that my allergies are freaking rampant right now.  I sneezed 11 times in a row the other morning.  Caffeine, in this case, is beneficial.  It helps open the sinuses.

By the end of the day I knew I'd be taking the next day off.  Was it my allergies or was it the bad coffee day?  Who knows?  Who cares?  I spent the day sleeping, sneezing and blowing my lovely red crack-addict looking nose.  Tomorrow, however... there will be coffee.


Paula said...

Oh my dear Shan, I completely relate to the whole coffee thing. I will never be able to give that up...I somehow believe that the drip drip drip of the coffee pot calls up the sun in the morning! :)There shall always be coffee! LOL

The Rambler said...

I LOVE ED!!! And he served you coffee?? I'm so jealous! (Ok, I'm over it)

And coffee...i'm spoiled. I have a cappuccino machine at I make my own cause I'm the bosslady.

I can't make a regular put the water in, the right amount of teaspoons of coffee stuff. I'm the lame prebagged waterpiped in coffee maker. Ask my father in law...I almost killed him with my coffee :)

I've missed you and your witty ways! We'd so be searching for the coffee together.

Anti-Supermom said...

Well, your addiction was obviously brought on by the lovely compliment of looking like Nicole Kidman.

Heck yeah, I'd hit that as frequently as possible to keep being reminded of that ;)

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