Monday, December 4 2006
Since the cold weather descended on Saturday, I've been keeping the wood stove burning every evening, though not necessarily during the daytime. The sun is actually powerful enough to keep the living room warm in all but the coldest conditions from about 9AM until 1PM, when it is lost irretrievably behind evergreens. Marie, our eldest cat who is something of a heat whore, makes two major migrations per day, down to the Ottoman in front of the stove whenever I fire it up, and then to the heated rock in the "cat shelf" in the bookcase upstairs once that fire dies in the late evening.
My caffeine and drinking-alone alcohol fasts both continue despite my expectations at their outset. Nearly three weeks into the caffeine fast, I still suffer chronic cramps emanating from my hip joints and I still occasionally have sharp headaches similar to those of caffeine withdrawal, but those usually only come when I feel under stress. For the most part life without caffeine has been better than life had been with it. While I can no longer control my feelings of wakefulness, the interesting thing is that now I almost never feel tired during my waking day, and I never feel as if I lack the energy that I need to do what needs to be done. In the past I could scrape the level sandbox of my motivation into little hills that peaked far above usefulness, but this also created basins of sloth in all the times of the day when my caffeine use was low. The key to happiness and energy in a lifestyle devoid of habitual caffeine use is simple: sufficient hours of sleep each night (something I've had consistently since college).
Another welcomed effect of the absence of caffeine in my diet has been that I'm finally cured of heart palpitations, which I'd had on and off since the Fall of 1994. It's probably no coincidence that 1994 marked the arrival of the "coffeehouse revolution" in my part of the country, a revolution where watery "diner coffee," an American standard since the dawn of our nation, was supplanted by fresh-roasted/fresh-ground gourmet coffee in my favorite haunts: The Feve in Oberlin, Higher Grounds in Charlottesville, and Bollo's in Blacksburg, Virginia. (As I've noted in my travels, this revolution has yet to reach such places as South Africa, Guatemala, and Ecuador, though it probably swept through the Mid East and Europe before it arrived here.)
Along with an absence of genuine heart issues, I feel more emotionally stable and less anxious these days. I can experience confrontations and undertake risky actions without the trembling and even sweating that always used to accompany them. It's as if, by avoiding caffeine, I've added some sort of anti-anxiety medication to my diet.
I don't find myself craving caffeine at all now, but this doesn't mean I've totally given up all aspects of the coffee/tea ritual. For psychic reasons too deeply-rooted to explore, I cannot function long in a chair without a hot beverage by my side. So I've been drinking various mixes of caffeine-free herbal teas. (Gretchen bought me a large variety of bulk teas from Frontier Natural Products Co-op, pinches of which I toss loosely into a cup in various combinations with hot water.)
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