Editor’s Notebook: We all have our addictions, and some come in a can
Ah, the fix. Jonesing for it. That thrumthrumthrum pulse of need coursing through my veins.
Everyone has their addictions, whether we admit them or not. It is simply impossible to cruise through such a temptation-laden world as ours without having a few weaknesses.
I have never really smoked, besides a few experiments in college. For a while I thought it would be nifty to smoke while drinking to give myself a rumpled Bukowski sort of air, so I’d bum cigarettes from my suave and cool chums, alternately puffing and hacking away as I sipped on my Rolling Rock. I rationalized that if I wasn’t paying for the cigarettes then I wasn’t really smoking. This brief flirtation with nicotine addiction thankfully ended when my friends told me to stop stealing their dang cigarettes. That admonition probably saved me years of tobacco and medical bills.
I drank, as most of us do, like a fish when I was in college, but I managed to get a handle on that after a while, and it never really became a need, just a social convention. These days, weeks and even months can go by between beers, and I hardly miss them.
But I still have one monkey on my back that I can’t shake.
You know this monkey, too, I imagine.
The caffeine monkey.
Oh, sweeeeeet caffeine, mother of all inspiration, friend to all. Giver and taker, migraine maker.
For most of my life, my method of getting a “fix” of caffeine has been Pepsi.
As a kid, I drank lots of Orange Crush, the fine acidic pop you just can’t find anymore. As I entered high school and began my flirtations with journalism via the high school paper, I discovered Pepsi.
And that was my downfall.
There was a Pepsi machine just down the hall from the journalism office in high school – it was easy enough to sneak out for a hit every time my brain started to sputter and run out of fuel.
So newspapers and caffeine went hand-in-hand for me, through college and out into the real world. Typing at the keyboard, there’s always been a caffeine-derived substance of some sort to my left. The monkey as muse. Monkey inspiration.
Faulkner had whiskey, I had Pepsi.
For a time, I switched from Pepsi to coffee – but after my teeth turned a dank shade of brown, I switched back to the soda, whose corroding dental effects are more subtle. Besides, it’s a little-known fact that newspaper office coffee is the worst coffee in the world. Part of this is because most newspapers are thrifty and tend to use old papers as coffee filters, lending the brew a somewhat inky aftertaste.
I was a three-to-five soda a day man for many years after that, what with my Turning The Brain On In The Morning can, my Is It Lunch Yet? can, the Lunch Soda, my 3 p.m. Coma Preventative can, and, when late-night deadlines called for it, the Oh My God I’ve Been Working Here 13 Hours Straight With No End In Sight can of soda.
Combined with the traditional after-work and weekend beers and spirits that one succumbs to in a college town, my body slowly began to assume the pale and bloated shape of a half-liter plastic bottle of Pepsi, and inside I felt all soft and bubbly.
Looking in the mirror one evening, I fancied I could see the caffeine coursing through my veins, pulsing under my skin like little spiders. I remembered taking out the recycling one time, and realizing that the entire Hefty bag was full of a month or so worth of my soda cans.
It was time to ease off.
I’ve learned a bit of moderation this last year or so, especially since they installed the dandy water cooler here at the Sierra Sun World Headquarters.
Of course, I still tend to have my Turning The Brain On morning Pepsi, but usually – usually – that’s my first and last Pepsi of the day. OK, sometimes I need a 3 p.m. Coma Preventative Can, but honestly, since the advent of page layout programs that mean we don’t have to spend hours pasting up a newspaper bit by bit anymore, I hardly ever have to have the Oh My God late-night deadline dose of caffeine.
We all have our addictions, I tell you. I think I’ve tamed the monkey the best that I can.
I mean, who wants to give it up entirely?
It’s a cold, cold world sometimes, with lots and lots of deadlines, and we all need a little monkey love every once in a while.
Sierra Sun Editor Nik Dirga grew up in Nevada County, where it all started to go so horribly wrong for him.
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