I’m Everything I Am, Because You Loved Me

Caffeine:

If being perky is a crime, book me baby! I have a tendency to talk a mile a minute, and sometimes two miles, depending on what-slash-who I’m talking about. Sure, I drop in the words, “like,” “you know,” and “I mean,” at least once every ten seconds, but for the most part, I just yammer on, trying to say as much as possible in as short a time as possible. I guess it’s no wonder I finally turned to blogging – you can tell people stuff even when they’re hundreds, or thousands, of miles away.

But while I pack a cheerleading-squad-full of pep into one 5’8” girl (5’11” today… I love these shoes), don’t for one second think I do it all by myself. Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to my life partner: Caffeine. I’m about two years into my addiction, which means in another sixty months, the Venti Starbucks and large Diet Coke I’m slurping (I know, I know, double fisting at the office is so not attractive, yet so necessary) can finally sign off on that civil union the three of us have been planning. Not sure if I would do that in San Francisco or Salt Lake City

Yea. I know, I read the research. Coffee is bad for you. It stunts your growth (please refer back to the last graf, where I admit to being 5’8”… I don’t care if I stop growing now, thank you), gives you the jitters, and turns into this wonderful little thing the experts call an addiction. Addiction?!? I prefer to refer to it as an undying love fest. While my mother would probably (scratch the probably… the comments are getting to the point where I can substitute that word with “most assuredly”) prefer that I find myself a nice man, I am more than content with my coffees, teas, and sodas.

I think my caffeine addiction officially got “bad” — you call it bad, I call it wondrous — fall semester of my junior year at Syracuse. Between my part-time job, RAing, work, and the various clubs and organizations I participate in, I just couldn’t get myself going in the morning. Enter vending machine.

Being an RA has its perks. A sweet meal plan with more than $600 allocated to SUpercard, making vending machine and Dunkin’ Donuts purchases free of real money was glorious. My best friend, Kayleigh, also acknowledges that it was the beginning of the end for me. I began drinking Mountain Dew before I even got to my first class, knowing that if I didn’t have my sacred jolt in the morning, I wouldn’t make it through Advanced Newspaper Reporting. Don’t get me wrong, Professor Niebuhr is nothing short of amazing, but he’s got this soothing voice, like the sound of smooth jazz in the morning.

Kayleigh would freak out as I chugged green 20-ounce bottles of liquid energy, taking multiple gulps without coming up for air. My residents began hiding my soda, telling me I was better off quitting.

“I can quit any time,” I would tell them, half-joking, but partly serious. “Just not today.”

And then I did. Between semesters, I kicked caffeine out of my life, cold turkey. For days I was lying in my bed, eyes open, waiting to fall asleep until five in the morning, sleeping past noon. Dark circles showed up under my eyes, and I admit I was a bit moody, er, well, moodier than usual.

I know what you’re thinking. “It’s all right, Maggie. You quit caffeine because it was good for you. We know it wasn’t easy, but ultimately you stayed away and you’re a better person for it.”

Yea, well, you’re wrong. I picked the habit up, right where I left off when I got back to campus in January. And you know what? I haven’t regretted it for a second. I mean, sure. Caramel macchiatos are about four bucks a pop, and I’m an unpaid intern. But a regular Venti coffee is only two dollars, and if you splash three packets of Splenda and some skim milk in there, it’s just as delish. And come on, have you ever tried taking a bite of chocolate, directly followed by a swig of diet soda? Try it. Come on, try it right now. Eat a Reeses cup, take a sip of soda, and swish the soda around in your mouth. Do you feel that? It’s like a worldwide bubble war in your mouth. You can feel the fizz everywhere, and it’s really one of the coolest sensations ever. And what about…

All right. All right. I have a problem.

This afternoon, I happened to call Daphne Oz, a rising senior at Princeton University, and author of The Dorm Room Diet: The 8-Step Program for Creating a Healthy Lifestyle Plan That Really Works, for an article I’m writing about The Freshman Fifteen (or Junior 20 in my case…) for the magazine I’m interning at this summer, and asked her about her take on college kid’s caffeine consumption.

First, she crushed my dreams by telling me the facts about my beloved Diet Coke. Yea, I knew it didn’t have calories, that’s why I buy it by the bathtub. But no, I hadn’t noticed that with a lack of sugar, it uses sodium to flavor itself. Forty grams of sodium. This, of course, means nothing to me, but she proceeded o explain that this sodium makes my body retain water, as I try to flush the salt from my system… In other words, “I found you, miss new booty.”

She told me it’s better to avoid it if I can, and not to trust Splenda too much. Apparently that’s bad for me, too? Something about linkage to Alzheimers… Her suggestion: working out, eating healthfully, and staying away from simple carbs. Wait? So the Butterfinger bar I had for breakfast the other day was a bad idea?

As much as I wanted to offer her counter-statistics for her argument, explaining that Einstein loved Milky Way Bars, Jesus drank Red Bull, and Joan of Arc lived off Mountain Dew and gummy bears, something about her perky voice made me wonder. Am I going about this all wrong?

Cue panicked attempt to rid caffeine from my system, withdrawal, and misery, followed by a re-entry to the wonderful world of juice boosts one day later, and a Happily Ever After with a Caramel Latte.

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