Coffee Reduction #6


It’s time for me to go off coffee again. I enjoy breaking this habit as spring edges into summer. I try to make it a part of my yearly routine. However, last year I never got around to it, what with the girl being born. I haven’t gone off caffeine since 2007. I feel like my internal organs are being continually bathed in acidic hot stimulants. They need a break.

Over the last month I’ve cut back from a pot a day to just one cup. This week I’m gradually reducing that. A full cup on Monday, three-quarters cup yesterday, half cup today. This is how to avoid the dreaded headaches that keep coffee drinkers enslaved to the bean. Tomorrow, a quarter cup. Friday, an eighth of a cup.

And then I will be free!

Midterm Hecticity

The school year usually starts with a flurry of activity and a burst of optimism. Then everybody gets in their groove and things chug along for a few weeks.

Now it’s mid-semester. Midterm exams are being given and graded. Faculty and students are beginning to feel the pressure of time — the semester is half over! A rising tide of anxiety pervades the campus.

Except, of course, for staffers like myself. I don’t teach. I work here year-round. So I don’t feel the seasonal time pressures the same way students and faculty do. But I work with faculty, so I’m aware of the general mood. And that mood right now is a sense of being swamped, of many tasks to be accomplished and a diminishing amount of time in which to accomplish them.

After midterms, there is a small release, and the mood eases up. Not too much, though. We gotta get things worked up to a fever pitch by the end of the semester. Even so, we’ll pace ourselves. We can’t have a complete nervous breakdown in December, because Christmas break is just too short to recover. After all, we have to do this whole thing over again next semester. The cycle will repeat itself, only the initial burst of optimism will be tempered by the memory of all the things that didn’t get done in the Fall. The midterm sensation of being swamped will be a little more pronounced. The ultimate nerve-frazzling freakout is reserved for the end of the Spring semester.


I’m fascinated by cycles, including the cycle of seasons. Back when I lived in Bloomington, Indiana I watched each spring for the emergence of new leaves, yet I always seemed to miss it. I would notice the buds when they appeared on the bare branches, and I kept my eye on them, and then — suddenly — there would be full-blown leaves on all the trees, turning the city from gray to green overnight. Damn!

Now that I live in New Orleans, this transition isn’t nearly so dramatic. Many trees, such as live oaks, keep their leaves through the winter, a season which is so mild here that it hardly deserves the name. Indeed, the four seasons here seem to be: carnival season, festival season, hurricane season and Christmas. But I digress.

Last year we planted a sweetgum tree in front of our home. Sweetgums lose their leaves in the winter. Over the last week or two I’ve been watching the green buds emerge on the branches, swelling bigger and bigger. Today I think I can finally say that I have seen young new leaves emerging.

Sweetgum Buds

Caught in the act at last.