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August 06, 2008

On Being an Addict

Discussions of personal inadequacy on this blog often take a grandiose scope, naturally reflecting the undeniable seas of mediocrity and existential angst upon which the author (yours truly) is perennially adrift. Inadequacy need not be defined solely by weighty subjects such as existential failure to be relevant, however, as HFK pointed out; what failures of no consequence want for in magnitude, they make up for in frequency. One such inconsequential inadequacy (of many, rest assured) is the subject of today's post: a habit—nay, an addiction—so severe that I have struggled much of my adult life to rid myself of it, always to no avail.

What is this addiction of which I speak, concerned readers (hi, Mom) are no doubt asking themselves? Alcohol?1 Drugs?2 Sex?3 Porn?!4 If only it were so. Unfortunately, the answer is far more insidious than that.

Though I do not possess an addictive personality in the traditional sense (obsessive-compulsive, yes; addictive, no), there is one substance that I cannot rid myself of, no matter how hard I try; that substance is soda (or pop, as I realized half the country calls it after moving to Chicago). High fructose corn syrup and empty calories in all their unhealthy glory. I have tried many a time to rid myself of this destructive vice, but none has ever been successful.

The first time I considered the soda-free concept was in 2005, during my second summer as a CalSO counselor. One of the pro staff members was going soda-free that summer in an attempt to be more healthy; I decided to join in to see if I could put up with the grueling eighteen hour days (5:45 a.m. – midnight) without caffeine (I was not then, nor am I now a big coffee drinker). Though I had intermittently reduced levels of soda intake in the past, I had never gone cold turkey. And while I made it through the summer, my foray into the working world negated any benefits the soda-free summer of '05 may have wrought. In August, I had a massive relapse at the Coca-Cola Museum in HOTlanta, where I probably consumed fifty different samples of soda in a span of one hour.

I went soda-free again in the middle of 2006, after pressure from yupster colleagues and the health-food-obsessed San Francisco, Calif., environment forced me to give up my repulsive soda-drinking ways. By winter of 2008, however, I was back to high school levels of soda consumption. At least one, maybe two cans per day. Law school had destroyed all my painful efforts in less than three months. Awful.

Along with numerous other dysfunctional behaviors (to be discussed later) this summer, the soda consumption has only gotten worse here in New York, N.Y. I just cannot seem to get enough of the damn stuff. Coke. Root beer. Dr. Pepper. You name it, I have drank it this summer. I cannot seem to stop!

Finally, on a flight back to Los Angeles, Calif., this past weekend, I decided enough was enough. Was I really so lacking in will power that I could not stop drinking soda no matter how hard I tried? How worthless could I get? It was time to take a stand—and see how long before I validate to the world what a true failure I am. I went soda-free this past Saturday, and today, I passed the hardest test thus far: I had a slice of pizza and no soda. Believe me. I wanted one. Bad. But I managed to stay strong.

I have little doubt that my resolve will not last much longer, and I will disappoint in the inconsequential realm of my soda-free campaign as I do in the inconsequential realm of my life. The only question is how long it will take. My guess is I go one month before falling off the wagon (again). In the mean time, if you see me trying to sneak a soda, feel free to punch me in the face and tell me what a failure I am. I deserve it. Goddamn junkies!

^ 1 Alcoholism is defined by consequences. So what if I spend most nights drinking alone in the dark, crying softly to myself? I'm not homeless yet, so it's all good in the 'hood.
^ 2 Though considered cocaine chic by certain individuals in the San Francisco homeless community, I do not have a coke habit, which is too bad, because if I did, then perhaps I could (finally) achieve something.
^ 3 As if. This and this should put to rest any questions of my having a sex addiction.
^ 4 As far as addictions go, porn is pretty innocuous . . . you know, unless it causes your marriage to fall apart. Unfortunately, I have never been as interested as I probably should be. That and the fact that I do not play video games will prevent me from ever being fully accepted as a computer scientist.


You are a mess. You really need to get a girlfriend to get your ass back in line. History suggests you won't be successful there either. So sad.

Yeah, maybe if you stop drinking pop then you will get down to a reasonable weight. You need an unhealthy addiction. Go with it, friend. I'll be right there next to you at the vending machines when we get back to school.

On pop vs. soda, see this site. So, I guess you're not lying that you're from California.

One day at a time bro. That's how I got off the smack.

@Katie: Uncalled for meanness.

@Darren: We'll see how strong I am. Maybe I'll be buying water instead of soda at the vending machines.

@Julie: Yeah, clearly soda is a superior term to pop. And Coke is just inaccurate.

@Matt: Smack? Is that your term for soda, or are you talking about another kind of smack?

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