My schedule is such that I am required to have my alarm go off at four-thirty in the morning. Yes, I realize this is crazy. However, if I wish to continue participating in three separate jobs, I need to budget my time appropriately and cut corners whenever possible. At the moment, my schedule is the best possible solution for all of my obligations.
What this also means is that there needs to be some sort of metaphorical carrot placed in front of me every AM that motivates me enough to trick myself into believing that everything is okay, that the compromises in my life that I have made are worth it, and that, by gum, I can accomplish whatever I set out to do, if only I can manage to corral the appropriate resources. My motivator of choice? That’s simple…
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Those of you who instantaneously reacted in a prohibitionist manner, let me explain. My drug of choice is the socially acceptable drug known as caffeine. My medium of choice for this drug? Coffee.
I’m sorry for the pause, as I needed a quick moment to collect myself. My love for coffee is unrepentant. I am shameless in my dalliances in the beverage. Just walking into a coffee house here in Seattle is enough to make me understand that all is right in the world, mostly because it is the aroma of coffee that is the siren’s call. Is there any other aroma that transfixes so many people out there? The only answers out there that comes close is the smell of cut grass or the aroma of a freshly baked pumpkin pie.
The thing is, I understand how the aroma affects me from a scientific point of view. Coffee aroma is perceived nasally by smelling the coffee through the nose, or retronasally, when the coffee is either present in the mouth or has been swallowed and aromatic compounds travel into the nasal passage through internal means. I much prefer the former to the latter.
I also know, at least in the abstract, that it is the Maillard Reaction of the roast, and the Strecker degradation, which help create the aromatics. But coffee is one of the few items on this planet where I can understand the science, and not lose the romance surrounding the product. Whenever I smell freshly roasted coffee beans, or freshly brewed coffee, I look like a stoner at a Phish concert.
I even understand that the effects of caffeine are more in line with a chemical addiction than believing that the coffee stimulates me. As You are not so Smart explains:
Caffeine is an adenosine antagonist. This means it prevents adenosine from doing its job.
Your brain is filled with keys which fit specific keyholes. Adenosine is one of those keys, but caffeine can fit in the same keyhole.
When caffeine gets in there, it keeps adenosine from getting in.
Adenosine does a lot of stuff all throughout your body, but the most noticeable job it has is to suppress your nervous system. With caffeine stuck in the keyhole, adenosine can’t calm you down. It can’t make you drowsy. It can’t get you to shut up.
That crazy wired feeling you get when you drink a lot of coffee is what it feels like when your brain can’t turn itself off.
To compensate, your brain creates a ton of new receptor sites. The plan is to have more keyholes than false keys.
The result is you become very sensitive to adenosine, and without coffee you get overwhelmed by its effects.
After eight hours of sleep, you wake up with a head swimming with adenosine. You feel like shit until you get that black gold in you to clean out those receptor sites.
That perk you feel isn’t adding anything substantial to you – it’s bringing you back to just above zero.
I know all of this, yet I still run to my 16 oz Americano whenever I can. It brings just enough joy to my life that I can rationalize the risks and compromises away, and move on with my day. Oh coffee, I can’t quit you!