An Experiment


For 115 days in the very end of 2012 to springtime 2013, I abstained from alcohol. That was nearly four months; while it had hard times I made it through without functional struggle. This week I’ve decided to try four days without coffee – four real days, working days, days when I can’t just excuse myself from everything else in life as a means of cheating.

It is much, much harder than not drinking booze.

Monday was the first day. My brain was lapsing at work. I had to take care of errands and chores in the evening that extended their welcome when I wanted to crawl into bed at 8:30 but couldn’t get there until 9:30. I got in a solid, by my flimsy sleep standards, 9.5 hours that night and I was feeling good to start out on Tuesday.

Getting ready Tuesday morning was a breeze. I left my building from the other side, the one that doesn’t pass my coffee shop, and got to my desk almost ready to work. But my eyelids soon weighed down. I was functioning and able to keep going on the principles of a work ethic not just through my particularly tiring work day, but the normal course of an evening as well. I made dinner, including actual cooked ingredients. I lazed around to watch some TV, went outside to enjoy nice weather with a book in hand, and went on a run. On Tuesday night I went to bed at a reasonable time, about 11, and woke up briefly at 6:00 Wednesday morning and comfortably assured myself I had another hour left in my second favourite place to be.

Wednesday morning I again skipped out on coffee. I got to work. Things were fine. Then somebody came by to chat with me. This is what tires me: a social environment.

One of the reasons to control my coffee intake is to shut me up. When I’m on a caffeine buzz I talk a lot more. That’s necessary in the workplace because I’m surrounded by people, which makes it more likely that there are extroverts about wanting to chit chat so they can hear their own voices. It’s easier for me to tolerate that, and to take part in it to possibly an annoying level, when I’ve had coffee.

Without coffee, I possibly wouldn’t tell people about my problems. That’s both good and bad, because I shouldn’t keep them locked up but also nobody actually cares. I’m putting myself through this to build up problems, hoping they’ll be easier to deconstruct when they’re not hidden under a pile of coffee grounds (which doesn’t even make sense because I don’t usually make coffee at home). Coffee uncovers problems by driving me to endlessly complain about insubstantial shit, but it hides more significant ones – particularly the personal flaws that drive me to endlessly complain about insubstantial shit when given the chemical push.

Anyway, I have one more day of this, then I’ll have proven some sort of point yet to be determined. Perhaps the predominant lesson will be that, while I have no problem with the idea of working with other people, putting actual other people into the mix makes it incredibly difficult when the people aren’t clones of me. (Working with clones of me would be harder in some circumstances, but I digress.) Perhaps it will expose my chemical dependency on caffeine…or the bullshit artificiality of the world that makes drinking coffee necessary for people to follow rules of daily working, eating, and sleeping routines made up by the powers that be. I haven’t gone so crazy without it to turn into a radical anarchist just yet, though. We’ll see. After tomorrow.


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