Parentheses for your thoughts

Day 4. I’d hate to turn this into a blog about quitting smoking, but I suspect that’s more interesting than this weekend’s upcoming deck conversion-to-patio project. Who knows, a freak accident with the power drill may come up and whammo! New material for next week! Speaking of freak accidents (wow, way to segue!), I was driving home yesterday talking with Pickle (finally, gawd, it’d been almost 2 months). That’s not the freak accident part, though, just a lucky coincidence that I was driving home in Texas and he had a day off in Nebraska. At one part of my long-ass commute, there’s a large field with a barbed wire fence separating it from traffic. Two dirt bike riders (dirt cyclists?), one in red, one in blue, were careening around the field (and a I do mean FIELD; not a hill or crag in sight) and Mr. Blue’s front tire must have slammed unexpectedly into… something, because one moment he’s the cause of half the annoying droning sound to my right, the next moment his bike is stopped, end above front, and Mr. Blue is flipping off, seemingly flying right at my windshield. By some feat of physics (or luck, but I’d have a hard time explaining the principles of either) his trajectory (big word, eh?) halts right before the barbed wire line. The flipper, having reached his maximum height and distance, slowed, then fell straight down, narrowly missing rush hour traffic and even more narrowly missing the barbed wire fence.

My commute does regularly give me these little glimpses into lives I’m not leading. Just this morning, for instance, I passed an old man standing on the grassy median of a busy four lane road, practicing his golf swing. I know just enough about golf to know he was not using a wedge.

Um, so, Day 4. It may be obvious that I’m feeling a little flighty. Having some difficulty concentrating on one thing at a time (and needing to address each angle of an issue as it occurs to me, which makes telling a story hard work for me, harder for the one trying to follow it- this aside might be a good example of that), getting distracted by anything shiny, that kind of thing. I’ve been told it takes 3 days to beat a physical addiction and 11 days to beat the psychological one. All I know is if I can get through Day 6 to Day 7 (Monk has a gig. Bar + beers + knowing nobody = massive urge to smoke, just to be doing something), I’ll be aces. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got pie to eat. Get your mind out of the gutter.


Did Denis Leary Quit Eventually?

Day 3 of not smoking. How am I doing? Thanks for asking! I nearly broke down last night, due to Monk being out of the house for practice. Practice nights are slices of Alone Time Heaven. Normally I’d sit outside the house with a book, a smoke and a glass of wine for hours*, blissfully free of (his) interruptions (yelling at the dogs, wanting sex right when my book gets really good). Fearing the powerful triggers of psychological addiction, a trip to Walmart provided me with banana cream pie, candy bars, ice cream and a frozen block of macaroni and cheese. I sat stuffing my face with carbs and sugar, and watched Super Nanny and Wife Swap all night. Wife Swap got a little Jerry Springer at the part where the two wives meet and critique each other’s lifestyle and parenting techniques. Apparently it took the crew three hours to calm the ladies (and I do use that term generously) down and film the end of the show. I was sitting there, watching the hair tossing, neck swaying, finger pointing and attempted over-the-table-jumping and thinking “huh, this show has somehow managed to become even trashier than it was last season.” Because, let’s face it, when Wife Swap premiered last year, everyone knew it was the ugly, drop-out cousin to Trading Spouses, showing up drunk at the family picnic and demanding some attention. Then I looked down at my t-shirt, which had become the canvas for a piece with the working title “Annihilation of Banana Cream and Chemically-Enhanced Cheesy Pasta,” and decided the kettle needed to shut her pie hole.

*I keep reading that phrase over and over, my willpower threatening to collapse, a slow-motion set-to-music montage of all my great smoking moments starts up, and
Denis Leary is prancing through my head: "I love to smoke I love to smoke I love. to. SMOKE!" Must be strong.



I spent my entire Sunday on the edge of a hangover. These days, that's what I get from staying up too late and drinking and smoking for hours on end. I haven't had a killer hangover in aaaaaages (you know, the one that keeps you in the house/out of work pleading "something I ate" just to avoid the shame of admitting you, a grown-ass adult, don't know your limits. Except for the fact that everyone knows you're hungover, you moron, so quit lying).

The point being that now I spend hours engaged in glorious conversation, smoking myself silly, refilling my glass constantly, and instead of the colorful violence of a full-fledged hangover the next day, I am just well enough to feel the need to "get some things done" but not well enough to avoid drifting off mid-sentence, having forgotten how to string together a cohesive thought, wanting to take a nap to refresh, knowing I'll just feel too restless once I lay down, and enduring a shadow of a headache that doesn't quite go away. I've decided to call this state of consequence the "Hangabout."

Of course I'm not saying I'd prefer the big full-on hangover. Of course not. But... At least when hungover, you can hold your skull in your hand all day, eat Saltines, and groan and moan (possibly with your partner in crime) about how much you drank, how fun it was, how you can't possibly do anything but lay on the couch all day watching Full House reruns (anyone? just me then?).

The Hangabout robs you of the drama and the slacking. It hovers like a disapproving parent, and you have to go about your errands, clean your house, call your mom, eat a regular meal. You can't be done in by something this insignificant, can't be that much of a wimp. So you struggle through your day-after with bewildered strides, at times muttering "this sucks, I didn't even drink that much last night" but only to yourself, because again, experiencing all-day discomfort from a completely civilized evening of moderate indulgence? You can't be that much of a wimp.

But I must be, as I've spent a whole entry complaining about my Hangabout, when I originally planned to say something brief and witty, then give a stellar example of how the Hangabout compels you to do Good Productive Things by putting it on the record that I am quitting smoking. As of last night. Crazed, angry, venty entries to follow.


Lord Have Mercy

I’ve always heard that in order to be a Writer, you must be a Reader. I doubt this applies to chick lit, to which I have been addicted for several years, Self magazine, or my bank statement, but unfortunately this is the reading material I seem to choose most frequently. I must admit it’s been years (plural, people) since I sat down with something like The Count of Monte Cristo, months since I’ve read an Orson Scott Card book, fortnights since I’ve read the new Clive Barker story. If I were the sort to be invited to dinner parties, and that conversation-starter card was played (you know, the “what are you reading right now” question), I would have to make a hasty exit rather than admit to a roomful of well-read, cultured individuals that I just finished up Marian Keyes’ latest. And enjoyed it. And am looking forward to her next one.

At the moment I’m reading some horrible Christian novel that’s trying to pass itself off as chick lit. The price sticker was covering up the whole "I'm a book with Prada AND GOD, yay!" blurb. Let it be known, even I have my bad book limits. This book is truly horrible- the author is clearly out of touch with modern times, trying to be hip and cool while quoting scripture and leaving little "are you there God it's me the Uptight Protagonist" blurbs on every page. The narrator is a virgin at 31 years, nearly implodes with guilt when she kisses a man ON THE FIRST DATE! and shudders to think of her best friend buying, and wearing, a thong (actually using the phrase “don’t go there”).

I do believe that what an author chooses to do with their religion in a book is their prerogative. But I’m feeling a bit baited, bamboozled, and blue balled. Why put the price sticker neatly over the Christian reference on the cover? Why was there no mention of God in the back cover summary, when there certainly is on every half-page of the book? Most importantly, why is the writing SO BAD?! Honestly, I could deal with the shout-outs to God and scripture if the writing were at all decent. The author is clearly relying on reruns of Friends and 7th Heaven for her dialogue. Every third paragraph reads smoothly and realistically, so I start picking up speed, cruising along, getting comfortable, then WHAM! Early 90s catch phrase + prudish comment regarding friends or family + note to God = me, mentally slamming on the brakes, big sigh, assess the massive talent/creativity abyss, regroup, rinse, repeat. Reading, the greatest love of my life, my downtime after a long day, a solitary retreat from a bad mood, my crack is whack mainline of peace and relaxation has inexplicably turned into my daily commute. It makes me want to go to the author’s house, hold her bible over a blazing fire and make her promise never ever to write again. Ever. Not even grocery lists if there is any chance of them crossing my heathen path.

Speaking of hell. I’ve started it and am now compelled to soldier on and finish it. I must get through it. Must read to the bitter (and probably religious and uptight) end. As the down-with-God-and-his-homies author would probably (steal a phrase from Friends and) say, it is “my Everest.” God help me.


Yasmin – Commercials for Dummies

Just a suggestion, dear prescription birth control pill . Dumb it down a bit. Because listen, that commercial you have, in black and white, with the couple walking around a downtown area, and then (I think) it starts to rain? And the Couple pulls out an umbrella? And this Other (attractive young) Woman appears and the guy from the couple turns to watch her, then yanks the umbrella away from the Original Woman to run after the Other Woman with it?

Well. For weeks now I’ve watched this commercial (it always come on during my workout) with its laughing pretty people, its weird musical montage, its not-quite-Disney animated butterfly (?) thing flying around people’s heads*, thinking “this is the weirdest damn commercial I’ve ever seen. Why is it funny that he’s taking his woman’s umbrella away and chasing after another woman right in front of her?” I interpreted the guy chasing the Other Woman with the umbrella and giving it to her as he wants to give it to her wink wink nudge nudge. So of course I’ve been very perplexed because after these shenanigans, the Original Woman gladly takes him back, they skip around in the rain and then stop in front of a cab to presumably make out (as one does). “What a doormat!” I shriek to myself, “Smack him around take that cab straight to a dating service, cuz clearly you need some help picking ‘em!”

D’oh, people, the umbrella is a condom (I smack my forehead)! And they don’t need it because they’ve got Yasmin, that odd butterfly thing, on them at all times! So it’s now okay for them to get all wet and messy (eww) without a care in the world! So they donate the umbrella to someone who needs it more (because we all appreciate the condom handoff)!

I used to take pride in my intelligence. Now I want to sit on it until it wakes up spluttering and rejoins the land of the conscious. Until then, I will be on the treadmill, trying to figure out why the Pampers babies are wearing diapers, and laughing out loud at The Golden Girls.

NOTE: I should mention that Derek
beat me to the punch with the This-Commercial-Confuses-The-Fuck-Out-Of-Me post.

*Edited to note: I have since realized that thing flying around is in no way, shape or form a butterfly.


How to...

Lose 6 pounds in two weeks without really trying:

Step 1 - Stop working out
Step 2 - Increase your nicotine intake by 50%
Step 3 - More caffeine
Step 4 - Make ice cream the cornerstone of your daily meal allowance and
Step 5 - Replace 90% of your beverages with beer (and throw some cheap wine in there too)

Implement Step 1 five days before your vacation weekend
Implement Steps 2-5 daily throughout a 5-day weekend
Repeat Step 1 for five days following your vacation

What? Worked for me.


Not Catholic

Bless me reader(s?) for I have sinned. It has been a solid week since my last entry. A whole damn week, people. And honestly? I haven't even been thinking about writing over the last 7 days. Worse, I have no excuse, and unfortunately, very little remorse. So, in the spirit of a (kinda) guilty conscience, here are some other (non)confessions:

  1. I lied about writing this weekend, when Monk asked (I said I wrote a little). I didn’t write jack, people, I sat on my ass a good deal and plowed through 3 books and a bag of Doritos in two days.
  2. There are many times I prefer the companionship and even the obligations of my dogs over Monk.
  3. I think my depression is coming back with a vengeance, but my life is just not pathetic or dramatic enough to justify it. So I can’t really talk about it. (wait, who let Debbie Downer in here?)
  4. I will be presenting a strong case for a big raise at my yearly review in a few weeks. One would think I’d therefore be working harder and proving my worth on a daily basis. One would think.
  5. Even if I get a raise, I’m pretty restless these days and might just change jobs for the heck of it. After taking advantage of the two 4 1/2 day weekends the Company's giving everyone over Christmas and New Year's.
  6. Speaking of being a great worker bee: When my boss is out of town, it’s a given to skip the business casual attire, but there’s also a good chance I’ll skip a shower too.
  7. I don't honestly feel guilty about any of the above.

Seven not-so-deadly sins. Huh.


Life's a Beach

(sigh) I miss it so. Whoever told me that
Surfside Beach was dirty and not worth our time must have had some outdated information. Or perhaps they should stop focusing on the shack on stilts, turn around and greet the ocean. With plenty of beer, sleep, lounging, walking, swimming and reading, the very basic beach house was fabulous. Happy Birthday to Monk and Quinn, the vacation was much too short.

We're already planning to go back next Labor Day weekend.