I have a confession to make…

Caffeine consumption has become a daily ritual and addiction for many people. Caffeine exists in coffee, soda, tea, chocolate, and energy drinks. Five common withdrawal systems are headache, fatigue or drowsiness, depression or irritability, difficulty in concentrating, and flu like systems including nausea, muscle pain, and stiffness.

Caffeine is my shepherd; I shall not doze.
It maketh me to wake in green pastures:
It leadeth me beyond the sleeping masses.
It restoreth my buzz:
It leadeth me in the paths of consciousness for its name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of addiction,
I will fear no Equal:
For thou art with me; thy cream and thy sugar they comfort me.
Thou preparest a carafe before me in the presence of The Starbucks:
Thou anointest my day with pep; my mug runneth over.
Surely richness and taste shall follow me all the days of my life:
And I will dwell in the House of Mochas forever.
~Author Unknown

I’m an addict.  Pure and simple.

There is almost nothing I won’t do for a good, hot, strong, flavorful, beautiful cup of coffee in the morning.  I actually feel angry when I can’t obtain my one main desire.

Coffee: because sleep is for the weak;  Yes, I will die without coffee; Coffee: All the Cool kids are doing it; Hand over the Coffee and no one gets hurt!

As I’m sure you can recall from my Simple Cup ‘o Joe post, I love coffee.  No I need coffee.  I don’t have a lot of hobbies and have virtually no addictions.  So I think loving coffee this much is ok.  Several years ago when I took a short trip with my dad, he would get so annoyed because at the beginning of every day, like an addict, I would hound him and gear him towards any establishment that appeared to offer a nice strong bold cup.  On our most recent trip from Washington to Wyoming and Colorado, I realized that dad finally “got me”.  He would go out of his way to drive to a Starbucks or some other high potency joint that doled out the black tar that has fed my soul for so long.  It was a trip of awakenings and bonding between the two of us.  His newfound understanding of me did however extend our drive by at least 4 hours.

You also read in that post about the extremes I will go to just for that really good cup.  I will accomplish death defying acts to obtain a kilo or 3.  I think I adequately demonstrated how dangerous and difficult it was to maneuver from my safe abode to the local coffee mill.  I also completely laid out how heart-breaking it can be to go to such extremes and suffer the often disappointing result of such effort.

So I’m sure you can only imagine my huge dismay when, after the electricity returned, I brewed my first bold cup and there was NO flavor.  It was boring, dull and un-fullfilling. I was despondent for days.  I tried pot after pot of coffee.  I used different measuring techniques and finally resorted to adding a spoonful of “Instant” coffee just to give it some flavor. Yeah, you heard me…INSTANT COFFEE!!

Nescafe no es cafe. (Instant coffee is not coffee.)

~Mexican saying

Any true coffee addict knows that instant coffee is a sacrilegious act that should NEVER be resorted to unless in extreme and by extreme I mean dire situations. (Yes, I do realize that extreme and dire mean the same thing and I was simply being redundant to make a point.)

I started babbling incoherent quotes like the following:

Coffee is real good when you drink it it gives you time to think. It’s a lot more than just a drink; it’s something happening. Not as in hip, but like an event, a place to be, but not like a location, but like somewhere within yourself. It gives you time, but not actual hours or minutes, but a chance to be, like be yourself, and have a second cup.~Gertrude Stein

The discovery of coffee has enlarged the realm of illusion and given more promise to hope.~Isidore Bourdon

Even upon re-reading the above quotes, I do not understand what they mean.  Soooo anyways, this past weekend I took the plunge again and headed off towards my favorite brew hub.  I had friends with me this time, if necessary, to back up my claim of crap coffee.  I chickened out at the last minute.  Given my negative ability to communicate completely in a 2nd language I felt it was not worth the effort and might only exacerbate future coffee buying expeditions.

On our way home we planned to stop at the open market for cheese, fruits and vegetables. Near the open market is a Turkish shop that sells Turkish things.  The one Turkish thing that it sells that you cannot find in any other store in Caracas is Turkish coffee.  If you have never had Turkish coffee and you are a coffee lover you should try it.  It’s dEEE-Vine!!  It’s divine in so many ways.  How you drink the coffee is really as important as how you prepare it, so I am going to give you a link that explains this most important act. TURKISH COFFEE

Typical turkish Coffee presentation

However, it’s never open, and when I say never I mean NEVER when I drive by it.  I didn’t expect it to be open on this day as well.  The coffee Gods were smiling down on me on this magical day because.. it was open.  I went inside expecting the store to be completely out of Turkish coffee as it often is. Again, good fortune was on my side because they had it.  Not only did they have Turkish Coffee, they had several bags of Turkish coffee.  I decided not to tempt fate and did the only logical thing I could think of.  I bought all but 2 containers of their coffee.

Each of these tiny containers of Turkish coffee ran about $12-20 each and I bought about 6 of them.  As I am sure you remember from my last coffee post I have trouble computing size vs. cost in Venezuela, so don’t quote me on the price. Needless to say it was a pretty expensive trip.  But can I say SOOOO worth it.  I’m not sure if you can see the writing on the bottom of this container but the coffee I bought has cardamom in it.  So it was a double score for me.  The original is good but with cardamom.. even better.

So I took my treasures home, cut my kilos with the Najjar coffee and this morning.. pure heaven.  Yes, it took 2 trips, 5 near death road crossings, the triangle of death, possibly hundreds of dollars spent and the use of my extreme Spanish/Turkish negotiating skills to confiscate from a store almost their entire stash of the black gold….and finally (POR FIN) I have achieved my goal.  A good cup ‘o joe.

A few good take-aways from these last two incidents:  1.  I now know exactly how much 3 kilos of coffee is and how long they will take me to consume.  2.  Always carry extra cash on the chance you will happen by a store that is open and carries the exact or close to exact item you want.  3.  Never give up.

Related Articles:

The Coffee Nation (CNBC TV);  Coffee Fuss (CBCNEWS – Health);          Coffee Habits (Healthy as a Horse)

Weekly Photo Challenge – Wrong – So, So Wrong

 It’s plump, juicy, three inches thick. Look at this sorry, miserable, squashed thing. Can anybody tell me what’s wrong with this picture?  – Memorable quotes from “Falling Down”(1993) 

On this weeks daily post “Weekly Photo Challenge: Wrong” I was going to be a little philosophical and try to do a sensitive photo challenge, dealing with poverty, abuse, pollution or some such thing that would inspire or motivate other’s into action.  However, after reading several of the blogs from this theme it seemed obvious that idea was sort of taken.. other just plain wrong photos popped up that got me to laughing.  Also got me to thinking about my time in Korea where even though so many things were not necessarily wrong.. some were just not quite right.  Enjoy.

Korean baseball game.. garbage bag on head while eating top ramen with chopsticks.. not quite right.

Korean subway, met Elvis’s doppleganger.. though not wrong.. didn’t feel right..

Obviously there was something very unsettling with the small, Korean bananas in my daughter’s left hand. Now I knew there was nothing wrong. but even to me it did not seem right.

Now.. I’m not sure what type of place this was.. hair replacement, wigs, hair styles.. but you can definitely tell there was something just plain wrong going on here.

Yup.. just wrong

More just plain wrong.. can’t be a hair style..

Freakn thru

If you have not visited Beyond Paisley’s post explaining “Freaking Through” it’s possible you will not understand this post at all.  If you decide to not visit the post then just ignore this post and pass on by.. forget about it… nothing here left to see.. GO AWAY!!!

I just want to say….I’ve been Freaking through all of my life.. I ended up in University by freakn through.. (How was I supposed to know you had to apply to University to get in? Just showed up one day.. started taking classes.. was told later I should have applied first. Eventually I did.)  Got a bachelors and ended up freakn through to my master’s… I didn’t understand there were rules and standards to adhere to..

I freaked through working at an elementary school teaching English in Korea and somehow freaking freaked my way to a University position.. was lovely.. great vacation and free housing.. I had no idea I wasn’t supposed to be there (Applied to a position that had been closed for about 2 months..  and despite the fact the position was closed I got interviewed and subsequently hired.)

Even where I am now I freakn freaked through.. I applied for a random job that looked interesting and over a 2 year process involving flying to Japan from Korea and from Korea to DC… I freakn got the job.. (I didn’t know what job I was applying for..as a matter of fact even when I was told I got the job I had no idea what I would be doing.. but I freakn got it)

Now I’m freaking living well, traveling well, eating well and sleeping well.. it all started with freaking through.. I have been criticized and mocked for my form and structure of freak.. but.. here I am ..still freakn through..  Life is freakn good..

Sam Freakn through

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

~ Mark Twain

“Just Freaking Through..” ~Beyond Paisley

Astrology Oh Wait.. Astronomy Class

It was 1997, I think and I needed one more science class to get into my chosen 4 year University program.  I was working and so I had no time to attend a daytime class.  I ended up choosing an online Astronomy class that would meet once a week to discuss the online portion of the class.  It was actually very interesting.

One day the professor starts asking us to raise our hand if we were Gemini, hands went up; raise our hand if we were Pisces, Taurus and so on.  Directly after getting us to firmly commit to our astrological sign he informs us that we really probably are not what we thought we were.  Apparently, astrological signs were made up many, many moons ago.. long, long ago in a far away place or time..

He then went into a very long story about how we could be a sign before or after our actual sign.. and on and on and on and actually I sort of lost interest in the topic because I started imagining my entire life over based on any of the other signs out there.. I’m a ram and sometimes we get a bad rap and a lot of 2 star days to top it off.  Doesn’t seem right.  Not fair at all.  I could be a lion or a fish.. ohhh a scorpio even.  How different might my life have been.

This knowledge did in fact change my life.  Every time I would read the paper and get to the Horoscope page I would of course read my horoscope.  However, I would also read at least the sign in front of and behind my sign.  I would then try to figure out which sign was having a better day or seemed to fit my lifestyle more than my own sign.

Finally I gave up.  No I did not stop reading horoscopes.. I just gave up trying to fit into any one sign.  I now pretty much just pick a five star day and go for it. Seriously, I often do not understand exactly what the horoscope is trying to tell me anyways.   Why not choose a 5 star day every day. Yeah.  Life is good.

As an example of what I am talking about I am submitting my last couple horoscopes.  Really, Does anyone know what they mean? First one I kind of love but the 2nd one don’t get at all. Possibly it’s time to move on to a new sign.

ARIES (March 21-April 19): The astrological omens suggest that you now have a lot in common with the legendary Most Interesting Man in the World — adventurous, unpredictable, interesting, lucky, one-of-a-kind. To create your horoscope, I have therefore borrowed a few selected details from his ad campaign’s descriptions of him. Here we go: In the coming weeks, you will be the life of parties you don’t even attend. Astronauts  will be able to see your charisma from outer space. Up to one-third of your body weight will be gravitas. Your cell phone will always have good reception, even in a subway 100 feet underground. Panhandlers will give you money. You could challenge your reflection to a staring contest — and win. You’ll be able to keep one eye on the past while looking into the future. When you sneeze, God will say “God bless you.”

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Apollo astronaut Russell Schweickart had a vision of loveliness while flying through outer space in his lunar module. “One of the most beautiful sights is a urine dump at sunset,” he testified. He said it resembles a “spray of sparklers,” as ten million little ice crystals shoot out into the void at high velocity. As you feed your quest for a lusty life, Aries, I urge you to be as quirky and resourceful as Schweickart. Come up with your own definitions about what’s gorgeous and revelatory. Take epiphanies any way you can get them.

WWSD – It’s the little things

“But what I thought, and what I still think, and always will, is that she saw me. Nobody else has ever seen me — me, Jenny Gluckstein — like that. Not my parents, not Julian, not even Meena. Love is one thing — recognition is something else.”
― Peter S. BeagleTamsin

Today was an amazing day for me.  All of my life people have come to me for advice.  I give it.  I am ignored.  This has been a consistent part of my existence.

I have raised two lovely daughters who I have given advice to for many years.  It would be a low end guess to say that 90% of it has been ignored.  Co-workers, friends and other family have approached me for advice ranging from career choices, money matters, relationship advice and other moral dilemmas that I have given away hours through counseling and consoling efforts only to have EVERY course of action advised squashed like a little bug.

I have been successful in several different career paths. I have been in charge of large groups of people in critical decision making situations and managed to lead and follow when appropriate with no damages resulting.  If I do say so myself, I am quite incredible in my ability to usually be correct.  However, my correctness is usually never mentioned and most of my advice is largely ignored.

What is my point?  Today is my point.  Vindication.

A friend who has been trying to learn Spanish ate lunch with me today and shared with me a short story.  It went something like this:

Yeah, today I had to give some keys to a vender who only spoke Spanish.  I didn’t think I could do it.  Then I thought to myself, “What   Would   Sam   Do?  She would just say something and not worry about whether or not she was understood.”  So I just forged ahead and said what I had to say in Spanish, I’m not sure if I said the right things in the right way, but I did it and I think they understood me.  They repeated what I said and I just said “Si!” and walked away.

I get it that this was not a major victory or real proof of anything about my abilities to be right or even about my ability to communicate in a different language.  Sure sometimes this “just do it” mentality gets me into some crazy situations.  However, it is how I have managed to keep things simple and accomplish so much.  None of that is really the point either.  The point is someone used the phrase “WWSD?”  I’m convinced no one has ever used that phrase before and possibly no one will use it again…but today?  Yes, today, this phrase made my day. It really is the little things that matter.

  • Life Changes (sherissewoodley.com)
  • Conscience+ (danariely.com)
  • Job Advice to Your Younger Self (imeldadulcich.com)
  • What advice would you give yourself? (journal1958.wordpress.com)