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Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Percolator of Addiction

I love my coffee machine. The first thing I make sure is installed in any new kitchen of mine is something mechanical that brews, percolates or, damn it, just shoots hot water through a small capsule.

I drink my coffee intensely, and my taste for it reflects that: Black, bitter and very, very strong. As far as I'm concerned latte is for the ladies. And don't water down my espresso à la Americano. I want my coffee neat.

It is an addiction that started in my university years and has seen me in good stead through my professional legal career.

Another addiction that goes further back is for chocolate. I am mad for the stuff. Throw me in a vat of the melted dark cocoa bean and I'll eat my way out.

You'll always find me starting the day with a bar of my favoured chocolate, and a strongly brewed cup of joe. And a guilty secret: Like a Neanderthal I dunk my candy bar in the hot coffee like a biscuit.

I've had a few ex-girlfriends suggest I put a piece of chocolate in my mouth and let it melt, instead, but that again is not for me. My chocolate is man fuel: My bar is thick, hard and long and is best eaten dipped in some hot coffee.

I don't have time to lie back and let the damn thing melt. I work hard. I look after two households, so I need to - and the only time I have to let my chocolate melt fully is on holiday.

I like to travel. I like the occasional Perdomo cigar. I drink, but not to excess. I enjoy red wine, am becoming something of a whisky connoisseur, and on a hot day a cold beer can be more refreshing than water.

These are not addictions, however. I can take them or leave them, and when I don't imbibe, I don't miss it. Not so with coffee or chocolate.

A third "addiction" (more a necessitation) I have is the art of communication and everything that goes along with that. Language, literature, words, reading - these are passions in me of which the rivers run deep.

I don't remember learning to read: Sometimes it feels like I was born reading because I acquired it at such a young age. I just remember reading Charles Dickens at primary school while my friends were starting with Dick and Jane books, and discussing with my Year One teacher why I found Oliver Twist trite melodrama.

She was agog, but no more than I: Until I started school I didn't realise people had to be taught to read. I thought everyone did it - kind of like breathing. I don't remember how I picked up the skill.

And therein lies the difference between addictions and necessitations. Coffee and chocolate are addictions, but you can be weaned off them. Even I. But reading - and writing - is as fundamental and substantial as breathing to me.

We humans are dopamine junkies - percolators of addiction, necessitation and choice. Addictions you can choose: It may sound like an oxymoron, but I chose my addictions. I enjoy them because they say something about who I am. Whether they allow us much freedom is another matter, but we can break their cycle. You only break the cycle of breathing by dying.

And there is nothing that will stop me from writing until I stop breathing. It's not a choice. I write because I have to: My mind is a percolator and I just got to brew this shit out. But I don't write for an audience, I don't write for acclaim - I write because when I don't write I feel like I'm holding my breath. It's my communication with life.

If someone said to you: My that's some shitty breathing - are you going to stop? Or if there isn't enough people watching you breathe, are you going to stop? Of course not. And for me writing isn't about who reads me, or how many - for me this most human of all communications is a matter of life.

So, for instance, I don't lose sleep over fake statistic sites who use dark hat SEO tactics to push false information to the top search pages of Google about my blog. These statistic scam artists try to blackmail small sites into buying a membership to publish your real statistics. But I don't give in to blackmail.

These sites are obvious: Their small print will claim they are for entertainment purposes only, and their emails don't work unless you are offering them money to update your real statistics on their site. It's illegal, criminal, and if I could spare the time from my real world legal work, I would make sure these sites were shut down.

But is it going to stop me from writing? No. Like addictions are a big "fuck you" to life, the continuance of my posts are big "fuck you" to whoever tries to make money out of them thinking that I do (when I certainly don't) - or whoever doesn't like what they read here.

If you haven't liked what I've written in all these years, the chances are you never will, so you are cordially invited to fuck off, too. Because I won't stop writing until I stop, full stop. This blog will be here long after any attempts to knock it down are gone.

I don't have to consider my audience, because I'm not making money off this blog. Visitors don't come into the equation, because I write what I want to write, not what will get the most hits. I'm not a performing seal, I don't play to an audience. I certainly don't write for an audience; I'm not translating when I have my say.

Moreover, I have another blog where I write anonymously, and one post has been shared eighteen thousand times*. It's a reworking of a poem I published on here six years ago, and in my opinion it's one of the worst things I've ever written. So popular opinion doesn't hold much weight with me.

And for those (what I call behind-the-bush) readers who may think I am writing about them in response to something or other, they need to know I have better things to do than opine about inconveniences that take me all of three seconds to get over. You all have my blessings and well wishes and my most deepest sympathy in your attempts to get over yourselves.

You see I welcome inconvenience. I always believe you can tell the size of a man by the size of things that bother him. Even when it's the criminal actions of others. Even when some warrior wannabes send me death threats by email. I take the difficulty and use it to benefit me, this is why I can say I have love for even the most idiotic of instances this blog has been a vehicle for.

Take every criticism, and make yourself even better. That's the only way to respond to stupidity.

And of course to have a good cup of coffee and some chocolate, while sending stupid people your gratitude for, if nothing else, having made you laugh.

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