Just Sayin’ – A Day Without Caffeine

by Alex Hentschel

Relationship status between Alex and Coffee: It’s complicated. “Complicated” meaning that I both love and hate my caffeine. Love, because it makes me bubbly, cheerful and productive. Love, because a good latte tastes like it’s brewed by a chorus of harp-strumming angels. Hate, because without it, I turn into a mascara-streaked monster with a migraine. Hate, because about 50 percent of my discretionary budget goes to cold brews and dirty chais.

I evaluated our relationship and decided we needed a break. We were becoming too attached. Everywhere we went, we went together. The old spark of joy and delight had dulled. We were only together because it would be far more painful to split up.

So I made a vow: coffee and I would spend 24 entire hours apart to see if a long-term break was in our best interests. If one day without coffee seems a little pathetic, I assure you that that’s about what I can handle at this point in my addiction. I documented this experience of withdrawal for my “pro-con” list and for your entertainment.

8:22 a.m., Hour 1: I wake up for my 9 a.m. class, angry (as always) that I convinced myself into taking a morning class. I remember and regret binging “The Good Place” for six hours last night. I pick up a mug and my almond milk. I drop the k-cup into the machine. I am about to press brew when I remember my vow. I lament all things done and undone, said and unsaid.

10:30 a.m., Hour 3: During chapel, tears of exhaustion are leaking from my eyes. I have to keep wiping my face with a Kleenex, looking as though I am deeply moved by the speaker. It is mildly embarrassing.

Noon., Hour 4: Someone — a very small monkey, perhaps — is smashing through my frontal lobe with a hammer. I am angry at this monkey yet too exhausted to muster up the strength to tell it to buzz off. I try to pay attention in my politics class, but the monkey is distracting. I successfully walk past Rinnova. My footsteps slow, as though pulled by a magnet, but I resist temptation. I am ridiculously proud of myself.

2 p.m., Hour 6: I am eating with a friend in Chucks and she tells me that I look “tired” today. I want to giggle hysterically, but repress the urge. I tell her that I’m writing an article about withdrawing from my coffee addiction. She says, “How about tea?” A 1,000-megawatt lightbulb of revelation blazes over my head for a moment. I think — yes! — I can relieve this torment.

2:10 p.m., Hour 6.2: After a moment of bliss, I feel bad — drinking black tea would deceive my readers. With a heavy heart, I drink raspberry tea instead — no caffeine content. It tastes like a fruity lie.

6 p.m., Hour 10: The caffeine headaches have passed, and the world has descended into absurdist delirium. Every friend who stops to talk to me is confused by my dead-eyed stare and guttural, one-word responses — usually I’m on my second caffeine kick at this point in the day and full of energy. I get a lot of, “Are you OK?” Who really knows, at this point? Are any of us OK? What is “OK?”

9 p.m., Hour 13: I am so tired I can barely keep my eyes open. I trip up the Maddox stairs and flop, like a thrown backpack, onto my bed. I write one line of my economics assignment, and . . . sleep.

And, 9 a.m., Hour 25: I brew myself a gigantic mug of coffee. It tastes like a 100 percent mid-term grade and feels like a warm sweater.

After an objective evaluation, coffee and I have been found inextricable. There’s nothing like the first mug of the day. However, after doing some research into the health detriments of drinking coffee, I’ve cut back to two cups a day, a healthy caffeine limit. In fact, a moderate amount of coffee is beneficial to heart health.

I apologized to every friend I spoke to during my withdrawal, and I scrambled to finish my assignment that I’d fallen asleep on top of the night before. Thankfully, they forgave me, and I managed to pull it together and save my grade. It was a close call, and I won’t be attempting to break up with caffeine again anytime soon. We’re better together. As I write this, I’m drinking a honey latte —and I have no regrets.

Alexandria Hentschel is a sophomore International Studies and Spanish double major and the Off-Campus news editor for Cedars. She enjoys old books, strong coffee, and honest debate.

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