Caffeine Quake

[My daughter, Emily, and I give each other writing prompts and we write something. I was supposed to write fiction, but again, wrote something that I have experienced.

Prompt: Write about a natural disaster in a calm and peaceful tone. I remembered a true story of something minor, but in which I was very calm…]


I began to notice that I had a caffeine problem many years ago. While in college, I remember beginning many a day with a 16 oz cup of coffee from a snack bar on Shafer Street at VCU. Then, after lunch, I would go to my job in an office building, and there was always a pot of coffee beckoning me. I would drink 1-3 mugs.  The first time I noticed the “shakes” from too much caffeine, I downsized to a 12 oz morning cup and limited myself to only one in the afternoon (I didn’t pay attention to the amount of Cola I was drinking, though).

I bought my first coffee maker at a yard sale of a graduating seminarian while beginning my M.Div. studies. I remember that when my mother would visit us, she ask for hot water to mix with her coffee, since mine was so strong.

I, also, remember when a colleague of mine visited while I was a pastor, and refused to finish a cup I had given him, since he said it already made him feel like he was “high.”

As I was raising support, from 1995-1996, I abused my body with caffeinated drinks in order to stay awake while driving long distances. An unintended result was that I often could not quickly fall asleep, even if I had returned home at 4 AM.

In 1999 I bought a cappuccino maker, and put it to “good use.” By 2001, I had to buy another, since the first one was worn out J. By 2002, I realized that I had to stop daily drinking 2 liters of Kazakhstan Coca-cola (the best in the world, by the way), and had to limit the number of cappuccinos that I consumed, daily. But I kept my habit of beginning my day with a small, double-shot cappuccino on an empty stomach.

It was in 2003 that I noticed a new affect of caffeine: it slowed down the world around me. My wife says that she knows when I’ve had too much caffeine because I speak at warp speed.[1]

On one December day in 2003, while we were still living on the 8th floor of a 9 story building in Almaty, Kazakhstan, I began my day, as usual, with a small, double shot cappuccino on an empty stomach. Our three kids had just left for school, and my wife was asleep in bed with a cold.

There was a strange movement, as I was composing an e-mail letter on my notebook computer at the kitchen table.

My fingers were no longer level with the keyboard, and I felt as though I were rocking, gently, in a boat.

My wife screamed, “what’s happening!” as the tremor awoke her from the deep sleep of a winter cold.

It’s OK, honey, it’s just a tremor.” The cabinet doors were swinging open, and overhead lamps were swaying. It was the worst tremor I had ever experienced, but it didn’t seem to bother me.

I didn’t panic, as everything seemed to be moving in slow motion: the caffeine caused me to speed up, relatively faster than the minor earthquake.  The quivering stopped, and then there was an after shock, of a lesser impact.

My wife came into the kitchen, and said, “I sure am glad we are moving out of this apartment and into a house next week!”  I heard her in slow motion, too.

I quickly answered, “You know it!” and went back to my E-mail.  She was moving so slowly, too, by the way.

Now, I drink even less caffeine, and the world seems to have caught up with me.


[1] For this reason, I don’t drink anything caffeinated before preaching, as I don’t want this effect to be confused with the work of the Holy Spirit in me.


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5 Responses to Caffeine Quake

  1. kazaknomad says:

    Good story. When did you start to blog, just a couple of months ago? Way to go!!! I find it rather therapeutic while living in KZ!

    • writersteppe says:

      Hi, Yes, I have been blogging, officially, since Autumn, 2010. I started on Videojug, but my daughter, Emily, had been blogging on WordPress. So I compared the two and made the switch.

  2. Pingback: Out of the Depths « WanderLust

  3. kazaknomad says:

    Right step (good move), Writer-Steppe!

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