birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Coffee Achiever

 I felt like I had to take a break because it didn't taste right any more, and my sleep was terrible. Then I started to realize that I craved it the most when I was facing a bad day at work, and I didn't like the thought of jacking myself up to be more productive at a job that had grown extremely frustrating. Then I read something insidious on the internet that put forward the proposition that all the deep satisfaction and pleasure of a cup of coffee is in fact merely recovery from the withdrawal symptoms, and it began to trouble me that this might be true.

But even now when I stay at someone's house who treats their morning coffee not as a routine but as a ritual, I feel a little lost when I say, "No, I don't drink coffee," and as they look at me a bit crestfallen I feel an odd need to apologize and explain. I am in your tribe, I want to say -- I am a coffee drinker, I just don't drink coffee. However, this isn't strictly true. I have one cup of coffee -- very, very good coffee -- once a week, and it pretty much makes all the neurons in my brain fire at once. It's amazing. It's amazing to experience it as the drug that it is, and to recognize how fast and wild and associative my thoughts will run as it starts to take effect. I can feel my heart pound if I have too much, and I see the ways it can make me a little irritable and friable later, and it inevitably completely screws with my sleep that evening, but I've decided it's worth it as long as I deploy it or abuse it or enjoy it in the service of something I care about, and not merely as a way to get through work or get through time.

Life Lessons

Chasing My Tail