My Addiction

Yesterday, I realized that I am addicted to coffee. I consider this a great achievement. 

I’ve gone from a soda-drinking yokel to a single origin connoisseur, and as such, am both a true hipster and a true writer.  Everything is better now: I stroll into any one of the independent ironically, irreveverently named cafés that I frequent, tote bag swinging (A note on the totes: they are as key to my new identity as the coffee, and I’ve amassed quite the collection. Lately I’ve been carrying a Jacobin tote, and for the filthy capitalists among you, Jacobin is a “leading voice of the American left, offering socialist perspectives on politics, economics, and culture.” Though sometimes I switch it up and bring my tote from the MoMA PS1 print fair which reads, hilariously and self-mockingly, “There’s no money in books.” These are but a small sample of my immense, impressive, and potentially pathetic tote bag collection.) I order my coffee black, and wait around for people to notice. I genuinely expect someone to say, “Black coffee? That girl is a New Yorker. Or a writer.” I will respond, unamused,  “Haha. Both, actually.” 

It wasn’t easy, getting here. For twenty five of my twenty five and three quarters years, I hated coffee. I was in the midst of a ten can per day Diet Coke habit, and I saw no way out. It was embarrassing: as a native daughter of New York City, I should never have been caught with something so parochial. More, that I had been denied the anecdote of starting a coffee and cigarette habit at thirteen seems like a lost opportunity of the highest degree. It was also inconvenient: I couldn’t go on daytime dates and I certainly couldn’t stroll through Bushwick, make eye contact with a bearded man, learn he’s a singer-songwriter, and of course accept his invitation to hear him play at an underground venue that moonlights as a pizza place by day. 

Then I matriculated into graduate school for writing and realized that my all my academic posturing was for shit without coffee. Nothing could replace it: not a moleskin notebook, not a New York Review of Books subscription, certainly not my collection of tote bags and not even a hand rolled cigarette could make up for the fact without the ability to sit in an exposed brick-boasting, Edison bulb-illuminated, single-origin-serving café with my laptop, I would never make it to the big leagues. I set about getting myself addicted.

I powered through, though, and did what I had to do. I ordered espressos, added three Splendas, and downed them like shots, throwing my head back, pounding my fist on the table, and grimacing. Within weeks, I got it down to one Splenda and was ready to order an actual cup of coffee to which I added enough milk to require sizing up a cup and three more Splendas. I am nothing if not a good student and do nothing if not take everything two far, so now I genuinely cannot wake up without a coffee. This is also thrilling to me, as I get to commiserate with my fellow drinks and say, “I cannot wake up without a coffee.” They, fellows in thought, arms, and habits agree, and we discuss our addictions at length. 

I’ve had addictions before, but coffee is by far the best. 

Addictions: A Sampling in Chronological Order

  • Creamed spinach (1992)
  • Gymnastics (1994-1996)
  • Law and Order: (1999-present)
  • Calling Daniel Schwartz (2003-2005)
  • Sex and the City (1998-2004)
  • Talking about the sex acts depicted on Sex and the City (1998-2004)
  • Instant messaging Daniel Schwartz (2005-2009)
  • Masturbating to the idea of Daniel Schwartz (a few months in 2010)
  • Green apple Hi Chews (2012, until the gas pains became unbearable) 
  • Twitter (2016-2017)
  • Tinder (2016-about three weeks ago)
  • Tote bags (2015-present) 
  • The Russia Investigation (present) 
  • Accumulating small tattoos (present)

Coffee has stuck its aromatic tentacles into every aspect of my life and made it better. It’s a conversation starter (“Do you ever go to Hungry Ghost?”; aforementioned zombie comment) a laxative, a stimulant, and an appetite suppressant. More, it comes with accessories: mugs, a French press, an at-home espresso machine (for shame, not a real one, just one with those plastic pods) refillable plastic pods (“I’m trying to be less wasteful,” I get to say), small espresso cups, a metal stirrer, a milk-frother (both unused; black coffee); a bean grinder, and more mugs. 

I imagine I will meet the love of my life at a coffee shop. I’ll have my Jacobin tote; he’ll have an N+1 tote. I’ll order an americano (black); he’ll order a Cortado (with steamed fucking milk, but I’ll get past it.) We’ll look at each other, smile, and talk about our favorite Dennis Johnson poems, which MFA programs we attended, and where exactly in Brooklyn we live.