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Coke-a-Cola, My Drug of Choice

My addiction is to the sweet, raw burn of Coke-a-Cola sliding down my throat.  It doesn’t help that the caffeine in Coke assists in easing the migraine headaches that, in the past 3 years, have earned the level “first-class” with me. I say that I like to keep them [cokes] around in case I get a headache; but there are, in actuality, those times that I just need to feel that familiar burn, to have it accompany certain meals or moods, to wash down a cake donut. I need Coke. I don’t have to have it every day; but if it’s not, at the least , in the house I panic.
I was recently made aware that my particular migraines could be stress-induced. I began to monitor when, where, and how they began to creep up on me; and realized that- ding, ding, ding! – periods of extreme stress were most definitely the cause. I also came to grips with the fact that this wasn’t something I could easily control. I knew that one of the major contributing factors was my job, a job that I felt I loved and needed to do, albeit stressful. 

The weekend of my birthday, 2010, my friends joined me at JeJu spa, a detox- Mecca in the Atlanta area. Although I had experienced headaches as a result of going to JeJu before, the doozie that I was “blessed” with that day put me in another realm. After a good-24-hour bout, vomiting in the backseat of my car (which I just don’t do!), and realizing that while my Imitex box was with me, my Imitrex pills were still in Savannah, I told myself “I don’t know how this is going to work since I can’t control the stress; but I never want to be here again!” I vowed in that moment that my meds would always be “on me”; and at the first indication or tingle, I’d be sucking down a pill even if I had to chew it and wash it down with saliva.  In the months that passed, I  attempted to curb my stress levels, drink more water, and maintain work on things that might lead to my getting the hell up out of my current circumstances (see post #1).  

As I had anticipated, the frequency of the headaches had reduced drastically while I kept my promise- to ensure that my stress level remained in a stable condition. To quote my friend Tamela, I had gotten that “Fuck-it in my system”. It took some practice; but my goal was that any work I was involved in, worthy of stressing over, was going to be work being done for me. My “outside- of –work- time” between January and April was to be used in preparation for my first conference presentation. And, as in true Anya-fashion, I had a hell of a lot to get done in a little bit of time (like shoot and edit a photo project that I had proposed 9 months prior). After being sprung with the furloughed days at work that resulted in a depressing pay-cut, I had all the ammunition I needed to put the “train” in high gear that would “get (my ass) on the good foot”! Participating in this conference would solidify the courage and strength I knew I had within me that would be necessary to set this life-change in motion. So, I did it. I bought the equipment. I secured the “permits”. I shot and edited the project, bought a plane ticket, and booked a hotel.  It all came together within days of flying out.

Those of you who know me well know that one of the more concrete reasons for any “anxiety” (some call it crazy) that I may express lies with my having to fly.  Me having flown half-way around the world and frequently over the Atlantic to visit my family in the Bahamas, from a baby to present-day-grown-up, well, means absolutely nothing. I act a plum fool on planes, the kind of “fool” that no one recognizes but me (because it’s  all on the inside—Yikes!). Flying + Anya= Anxiety= Anya acting an ASS= What?  àSTRESS! Add determination (some have called it stubbornness) to that stress; and here’s what happened.

I had promised myself I was going to get through this. I needed to get through this. There was a plan in order for my life; and since I was making strides to “get with” that plan, I would not die in route on the 6 flights that were awaiting me to and from New Haven, CT. Damn flying out of Savannah for anything! Meanwhile, I knew what I wanted to say; but hadn’t written the least bit of a presentation.  Being the “Queen of Rigging-Something-Up”, I told myself that the speech would get written on the plane. The only thing that eases my anxiety (in the least bit) on a flight is writing.

My soul mate and best friend, Ms. Grady, came to my house about two nights prior to my leaving to help me sort through my jumbled thoughts, to help me remember things like “What the hell is it that  I am trying to do, say?”. I scribbled down ideas, drew sketches, and taped our conversation in hopes that things would “gel” while I was in transit to the conference. Have I mentioned that I was stress-free? Hell no, I haven’t. I boarded that first flight; and put my pen to work. In the three flights to Connecticut I had written 15 pages of notes and begun the editing process.

My presentation wasn’t until the afternoon of the following day; so I checked into my hotel, ordered some food, and typed and constructed an exquisite presentation. The next day I walked up to the modest podium in the room in which my session was assigned, nervous as hell; and opened my mouth. I used my “speech” to recite my opening quote by Audre Lorde; and never looked down at the computer screen again. It was a beautiful experience.

I met and connected with AMAZING people. I took ferocious notes throughout the entire two days spent there. Every word I heard that I didn’t know or that I felt required further attention from me, was written down (I actually have a list of words!). Everything I heard, everyone I met made so much sense; and in turn, I made sense to myself. It had been a long time since I felt like that. Project ideas were coming to me; ways to go further with the project I had begun, essay ideas, poems, even book titles were spilling over into consciousness, even when I slept.

Pushing what was happening to my body into oblivion, because my mind was fixated on much heavier things at play, I was mildly aware that a headache had been creeping up on me for days. Remember what I said?  I wasn’t having it. On my person was a bottle of Extra Strength Excedrin Gel Tabs. (These are now my first line of defense, so my headache doesn’t have to get to the throwing-up-in-the-backseat-of-my-car-stage.). Without paying much attention, I continued sucking those things down (AND chasing with Coke), left- and- right, trying to assure that I wouldn’t be “ass out” during my conference debut. Well…

By the time I was up in the air again, on my way back home, I was about ready to jump out the plane window! It took me a minute; but I realized two things- I had about two pills left in that Excedrin bottle, and I was so “high” on caffeine that I would have probably failed a drug test. I turned to “the pen”. I continued to write for two reasons- 1, I was still scared; and 2, I needed to keep myself from jumping out the window, or worse- opening up my mouth and speaking to someone. I get so ugly on planes. “Why are people walking around all willy-nilly? WTF?” I invite you to glimpse into my journal (my head at the time):

I can’t even cry. I want to release; and I can’t. I’m trapped. I feel trapped in this body, in this space; and right now I can’t do anything about it (don’t want to at the same time). I want to go home. I want to be home as fast as I can. Well… this is the way to do so.  I appreciate the black flight attendants I’ve encountered- jazzing up the common “airline shpeel”. I feel like Gabriel acts when I know he’s tired. I just need a nap! What is a tomboy?  Please let me be ok.  Thank you for the sun. That was nice J.

Oh wait, there’s more:

I’m having a bad panic attack right now. I need to write; but I’m sleepy. I need to sleep; but I won’t let myself. Tranquilizer gun- anybody? Maybe the caffeine in the “shots” of Excedrin I’ve taken has something to do with it? Maybe my stressing has something to do with the migraine I’ve been trying to fight off for the past 6hrs! How can I interrupt the cycle?

Of course, there were some things written that proved to be more sound.  Let me be the expert on me and what looks like me”! In the “drug”-induced state, I managed to organize all of the notes I had taken during the conference and come up with an article idea that I would use as my “writing sample” for applying  to school. Most things were coming through quite clearly. I felt an unmistakable purpose running through my blood. I was also confronted by and could better understand how I would channel my anger and rage at so many things in life.
My feet had touched the ground in Savannah. I had made it—I was alive. Oh, and I was ready! Poor Shakeh, I couldn’t wait to recount to her my adventure. I remember holding her hostage in her own apartment as I gave her every minute detail. “Shakeh—I’ve got a fuckin’ dissertation!”  I don’t think she heard anything I said that night, she was so sleepy.  She usually acts real ignorant when she’s sleepy; but declined to put me out because she could see how excited I was.

In the few weeks that have passed since losing my job, I have, without much choice, been forced to write. Similar to my plane rides to and from Connecticut, writing is the only way I can keep from jumping out of a window. The one thing that I cannot be right now is bored, purposeless.

I have, of late, begun to feel that oh-so- familiar tingle in my toes, finger tips, and lips. Thankfully, the “high” sneaking up on me is quickly recognizable. You see, I haven’t quite figured out how to remain “stress-free” while not having a job or the money necessary to do the things I was used to doing (the very small things). Also, I have entire days to myself! I drink two-three cups of coffee on a given morning; and my trusty friend Coke-a-Cola is ALWAYS there waiting, at the bottom of the fridge, in tiny, frosted, icy cans, to assist in washing my troubles away. It is apparent why this “high” is upon me.

This time, I know exactly what it is; and I welcome it. I’ve read three books in two days. I’ve made friends with ancestren (is this a word?), Ida B. Wells- Barnett and Sojourner Truth, through journals and biographies; and well, I’ve written a second blog! How ya like that? The badass, Jill Scott, once asked: “Do you want it on you rice gravy? Do you want it on your biscuits baby? ….Do you want it on your collard greens?...your candy sweets? “Yes!” I answer. Sprinkle a little bit of that Coke-a-Cola on thangs; so I can knock this writing sample out right-quick. 

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    Anya M. Wallace | Photographer - notyournextfeministsuperstar - Coke-a-Cola, My Drug of Choice
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    Anya M. Wallace | Photographer - notyournextfeministsuperstar - Coke-a-Cola, My Drug of Choice

Reader Comments (3)

Beauty. Keep writing your way out. If you haven't already, pull up Desiderata off the interweb and print out a few copies. I for one am so glad you pushed through it all to come to CT. You change my life for the better, forever. I love you like you love Coke.

September 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLeola

Leola, your words are right on time this morning. Thank you for your love lovely lady. I appreciate you more than you know.

September 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnya M. Wallace

Keep writing, I am blessed you've opened this window of yourself. I learn you more each read. Love energies, Blessings and Peace.

October 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLabeebah

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