Friday, October 8, 2010


I have something shocking to tell you. In case you are reading this blog post in an awkward place, like from an iPad while walking on a treadmill, you may want to sit down.

I wrote my first three novels without benefit of coffee or alcohol.

For that matter, I didn't even drink tea. At the time I was a member of a church that banned these substances. Before I joined said church, I drank alcohol here and there, but because I had my first child at age 21 and was pregnant, nursing, or Mormon for the next nine years, it put a bit of a crimp in any drinking I might do. Hunter S. Thompson would be horrified, I know. But I stand in defiance of the stereotype that true creativity comes from being high or hammered. It can also be achieved by being exhausted to the point of delirium.

Once I stopped being Mormon, I started dipping my toes into the waters of beverage-based sin, but very judiciously. A beer at a barbecue, say. A mocha frappuccino at Starbucks. My kids were a little freaked, but they adjusted. At age 34, coffee was an exotic mystery to me. Growing up, my mother drank the stuff constantly; she should have owned a Mr. Coffee Intravenous Drip Machine that she could drag around behind her all day. I tried to drink it at "poetry slams" once I started college, but wondered why people enjoyed this dirt-flavored hot water prettied up by some vanilla syrup, a sprinkling of chocolate shavings, and an Italian name. So I stuck to Diet Pepsi, which has been my singular addiction for the past fifteen or so years.*

But I wanted to like coffee. There's a whole culture of it. People seem to derive great pleasure from it, and to be quite frank, it made me feel like a bit of a hick to be so ignorant as to why. So I worked on it, and after a year of various froufrou Starbucks drinks and McDonald's mocha frappes, I came to a conclusion. I wanted a Keurig machine.

For those who may be as out-of-the-coffee-loop as I was, a Keurig machine is a coffee maker that produces individual servings of coffee by the use of teeny little foil-sealed cups of whatever it is you want to drink. You can even get a plastic carousel on which to display the selections. It's as though a group of executives sat down and said, "Let's see, how can we convince Rebecca Coleman to buy a coffee machine?" See, I have this thing for sampler platters. If there is a sampler/combination/buffet option, I will take it one hundred percent of the time. It's not that I'm indecisive. On the contrary, I have decided I want EVERYTHING. So when someone comes up with a coffee machine that says, "Rebecca, this lets you try all one hundred and seventy options," well sir, you have yourself a deal.

So I took my 20% off coupons to Bed Bath & Beyond and bought the machine-- and the carousel, of course. Then I got it home and was faced with a unique challenge. I needed to prepare a cup of coffee, something I had never done, not once, in my thirty-four years of life. I am pleased to say I accomplished the task and felt very successful until the next day, when I purchased this stuff called "Coffee Mate Non-Dairy Creamer" and found that the instructions read, "Pour or spoon COFFEE-MATE into prepared coffee, tea, or cocoa. Stir and enjoy!" Pour or spoon how much? A teaspoon? A tablespoon? A quarter of a cup? I faked it, and I suppose I did all right because it tasted like, you know, coffee.

So I like my new toy, and the whole experience makes me feel pleasantly youthful. It's nice to be a babe-in-the-woods about something once in a while. And besides-- if I can already stay up until 3 a.m. writing, fueled only by Diet Pepsi, imagine what I will be able to do on coffee! I may never need to sleep again!

*Yes, even when I was Mormon. Contrary to what most people seem to think, it's okay to drink caffeine if you're Mormon, just not coffee and tea. Anyone who tells you otherwise is misinformed, even if they ARE Mormon.

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