One Day At A Time

Everyone has a vice.  Some of them are extremely detrimental and some are benign.  They make us human and vulnerable.  My vice is a the product of my lactose intolerance, tradition, and I dare say, our family heritage.  It is an addiction to caffeine in the form of a cup o’ Joe, café, Java, brew, etc. 

Hi, I’m MeMa, and I am a caffeine addict

When I was born, no doubt my mother wondered what the heck to do with me.  I didn’t take to whole milk like other kids, and was fussy and gassy to boot.  In those days, the family pediatricians really didn’t know too much about lactose intolerance and my mom was told to just sneak things into my milk to change the taste in the hopes that I would take to it.  The method was suspect, I know, but when young mothers sought solutions then–especially low-income moms–they were often met with “doctor knows best” syndrome.  So there my mom was, adding all of these various ingredients to the milk to make it taste better.  That’s when my mom had the idea to add just a hint of coffee.  Voilá! An introduction to caffeine was born. 

Coffee Is In My Blood

This ingredient was not an unusual thing.  Puerto Ricans everywhere start their kids off on coffee-drinking rather early.  Because of our country’s rich soil and perfect climate, Puerto Rico has a history of farming their own coffee.  Café Real company (arguably the best coffee in the world once endorsed by the Vatican) boasts pure, home-grown coffee that isn’t mixed with any foreign coffee ingredients or competitor’s grains.  Unfortunately, promotion of healthy living, caffeine’s negative press, and the reduction of farmland has affected the business and the demand for coffee.  Coffee has served me well over the years.  When I was a little girl, it was not uncommon to sit at my grandmother’s kitchen counter and have a sip.  It wasn’t just the coffee: it was the story behind it.  The mystique rendered a family tradition: a sharing session where we’d sit down and talk about everything.  Coupled with a piece of Pan de Mateca con mantequilla (trans. Manteca bread and butter), there was no topic that was off-limits.  I swear that a full-bodied roast has some kind of magical quality to it…an elixir for storytelling.  In college, it kept me up when I pulled “all-nighters” to write papers.  At work, the daily pantry-visit is a social event where I can chat with co-workers as they fix themselves up a cup.  It serves a dual purpose because it’s also a means to refresh, a solution to the slow pace post-lunch. 

Old Habits Die Hard

To me, nothing can substitute for coffee. On my way to work, I pass at least four stores that tempt me to drink it.  It’s as if the coffee is calling me to buy it.  I think of all the good conversations that have been sparked as a result of sitting and drinking it.  Then, there’s the pure addictive quality.  Without a morning coffee, I don’t feel the same.  There are the headaches, the annoying irritability, that feeling that I’m missing something.  Then, what will I order in its place?  When the waitress at my favorite diner asks, “What’ll you have (to drink)?”  What will I say?  Tea?  Soda?  I just don’t like those choices.  The reality is that I know that sometimes coffee doesn’t agree with me.  I know that it makes me jumpy in the afternoons and I know that I feel off-kilter without it.  That’s the bad news.  The good news is that I can change but it will definitely take more than just will.  Maybe I can find a happy medium.  I can try to drink it in moderation.  That can’t be too bad, right?  I don’t have to drastically make changes; I can ween off of it.  Right??  All I know is that when I smell that wafting smell coming from the local coffee-shop or the pantry at the office, I can’t resist. 

If you see me crouching in a corner, rocking back and forth with that crazed look in my eye…be nice. I guess I have to take it one cup at a time.



About Lisa Perez

Lisa M. Perez is a published poet, editor, copywriter, public speaker and artist. The co-creator of the first ever ArtSpace in Jersey City, member of IUOMA (International Union of Mail Artists), and administrator for an online Mail Art group, Lisa supports the arts and advocates for creativity. Her successful, Art Journal and "Notes from my Brain" series are ongoing projects that evolve with the artist. In addition to being an active blogger since 2005, Lisa scripts and edits copy for various online articles and videos. In September 2017, she was a guest-speaker and virtually chaired a YOGA Recovery meeting. In her spare time, Lisa studies, reads, and creates while maintaining a day job in a STEM field and being a full-time fur-mommy to her shih-tzu, Cher.
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