Caffeinated Brain

I’ve had to give up caffeine. It’s awful. Who does that? Someone who develops panic attacks after even just one Dr. Pepper, that’s who. I’m so sad.

Yesterday I had to get the kids out of the house before school, so I decided, what the heck, I”ll go to Starbucks and get an iced coffee. At 1am I was still wide awake, worried that a burglar was in our house, that my sinus head pressure was actually a brain tumor, and that some way or another, I would die in my sleep. I was too paralyzed by fear to get up and take an as-needed anxiety pill I’ve recently been prescribed, so I just lay in bed, practicing breathing and hoping that the burglar would just show his way out of the house (there was no burglar, it was the clicking of the furnace that was making the strange sounds coming from the room below me).

During this period, I crafted about four blog posts in my head, wrote three short stories, and decided where the two paintings I was working on would go next. I wondered, was my wired brain activity from caffeine, or from actually using my brain?

I’ve been reading, writing, and painting like my life depends on it. I’ve been journaling and researching agents (got my first rejection letter from one) and revising my picture books. I’ve been working on book synopsis and pitches, query letters, flash fiction and short story essays. I’ve been writing and sending out press releases for my sister’s new shop, and brainstorming marketing techniques for her. I’ve been art journaling using prompts from a fun art book I found at the library. It’s been a busy creative month, and I love it.

I also set aside my middle grade reading material and am reading “A Tale for the Time Being,” which is punching my gut every three sentences. It’s beautiful and bleak. It touches on themes of globalism, environmentalism, the passage of time, Zen, depression, suicide, bullying, war, post-war, September 11, post-September 11, family relationships, cultural differences, creative block…I’m blown away by it. It’s one of those books that I bet everyone would take away something totally different. I wrote down a sentence last night from it:

Sometimes when she told stories about the past, her eyes would get teary from all the memories she had, but they weren’t tears. She wasn’t crying. They were just memories leaking out.

This morning I woke up with a horrible headache. I can’t tell, but I think it’s caffeine withdrawal. Or tension. Either way, I learned my lesson (and no, it’s not “stop drinking coffee”). If I’m going to be up all night worrying about the world and crafting narratives in my head as I do, I might as well grab my computer or a notebook and get to work. And keep reading books meant for fourth graders.

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