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TGR, Gutenberg, Rubric

March 2015



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TGR, Gutenberg, Rubric

Ahhhhh. Life.

A Facebook friend recently quipped, "Is it weird that sometimes when I go to bed at night, I'm already looking forward to my first cup of coffee the next morning?" Uh... No. My first cup of coffe in the morning is one of the things I look forward to most. I suppose perhaps that is sad, but even if it weren't for the dogs whining to go out at 5:00 a.m., I'd still get up just to make that first cup of coffee. And the second. And the third...

I come by my love of coffee naturally. My mother and father were both devoted coffee drinkers. One of my clearest memories of childhood is my mother sitting down at the table in the morning with her first cup of coffee, sipping it, and saying, "Ahhhh. Life."

In college, I fully developed my love of coffee. I had a coffee pot in my dorm room (technically against the rules) and would preset it at night so in the morning all I had to do was plug it in (an electric percolator). By the time I was out of the shower, my coffee would be ready. Sometimes, so would two or three dormmates standing at my door with empty cups. I kept a pretty rigorous schedule through most of my college years as a theatre major and generally poor person. I worked at a styrofoam factory in the morning, took three to five classes in the afternoon, worked on stage or in the scene shop until 10 or midnight, then started the routine again. I had an electric pot in the scene shop that I plugged in as soon as I got to the theatre. I had a pot at the factory that I fixed as soon as I clocked in. I drank 12-20 cups of coffee a day, and then on my way home after theatre would often stop at the donut shop and have a cup before bed.

There was a fateful day in my thirties that I got sick with a particularly virulent strain of flu. Imagine the details. Over the course of two weeks, I lost my taste for coffee. When I recovered from the flu, I was plagued by debilitating headaches that made me dizzy. It was nearly a month later that I realized I had not had coffee, i.e. caffeine, in six weeks. Instead of going back and pouring myself a cup immediately, I switched to decaf. It took a total of nearly six months to completely purge myself of the addiction.

Mostly, I'm still decaf. I fix a pot of half-caf in the mornings so that wife and daughter can get their start, but since I get up earlier than either of them, it's not that uncommon for me to have finished most of the pot before they wake up. I often fix two more six-cup pots during the course of the day (all decaf). Sometimes I stop at Jitters for a decaf 4-shot Americano with room. I drink it black. Less water, more coffee. I love the taste of coffee. I love the comfort of coffee. I love feeling the warmth and bitterness flow through my body. "Ahhhhh. Life."

I go through about three pounds of ground coffee a week. In my novel For Blood or Money detective Dag Hamar takes time out to describe in detail his first sip of coffee in the morning. In the sequel, Stocks & Bondage Deb Riley describes an encounter with southern style instant coffee. In my new novel, The Volunteer, a homeless man describes the lengths to which he goes to get a cup of coffee (boiling the used grounds from an espresso stand).

"Is it weird that sometimes when I go to bed at night, I'm already looking forward to my first cup of coffee the next morning?" No. It's a barely adequate homage to one of the great pleasures of life.