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I bought half-caff today. I was shopping at Meijer without a list, haphazardly rolling my half-cart up and down the aisles, walking by items I needed and picking up items I didn’t. I shouldn’t shop without a list, my mother always told me. She’s always turning up right.

I rolled down the coffee aisles for the free smells, not for a pound of Folgers, six bucks on sale. But I’ve taken to plugging in my Braun four-cup brewer every morning like I turn on the lights. Light switch, coffeepot, computer when I unlock my classroom-home-away-from-home. Only then do I take my coat off and suck in the deep breath that starts the day.

I’m starting to need the coffee. Addiction is making caffeine part of my pattern and I’m not so happy with the realization of the weakness, the dependence. Addiction runs in my family. We take to ignoring it’s negative effects, going on as if we’re unsplintered and whole, unbroken by the vices of the tendencies we entertain. I noticed how captive we were sometime in high school. And it helps to be aware. But it doesn’t make me immune.

My eyes are starting to burn at the corners. I rub them until they’re red. The edges itch and I pull at the corners. They fall like I’m tired, but my body is awake. It’s calling for coffee, this broken body, forcing me into patterns I try to avoid.

So I bought half-caff to break the cycle. To slow the drip of caffeine daily into this body I drag around with me sun-up until sun-down. The patterns, for now, will remain. The caffeine, now, will be reduced away. With trickery, I’ll deprive my body of what it desires, doesn’t need, and I don’t want—but can’t stop—giving it.

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