the small stuff…

Day 36 and smoke-free. I have to admit, I am a little proud of myself.

Have a great week. ❤

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It could be worse – I could have writer’s block…

33 DAYS AGO, I QUIT SMOKING…

In the interest of full disclosure, I have quit smoking many times before. However, this time seems different. Mostly because I want this time to stick. I don’t want to start smoking again.

Ostensibly, I quit because the cost of cigarettes in CA has gotten so high that it’s an insult to pay the price of a meal for a pack of cigarettes. And don’t get me started about all those do-gooders who vote for raising the taxes on cigarettes and similar items – thinking they are so right and we who indulge are so wrong. Because one day, they’ll have to leverage taxes on something they really love like, I don’t know, weed? Frappucino’s? Vapes? Anyway….

And because I really am committed about quitting I have had an interesting 33 days. Going through withdrawal (and let’s be honest nicotine is a drug and quitting is withdrawal) has produced some weird effects, like:

My right foot and ankle swell up over the course of the day. So badly sometimes it appears I don’t have an ankle, just a block of wood at the end of my leg. Oddly, it all goes away over night.

I feel a little drunk – not quite focused, a bit dizzy and a little loopy

I’m muttering more than usual

Food doesn’t taste amazing (like so many claim upon quitting), in fact, it hardly tastes at all.

It takes me five times longer to do anything. Walk to the corner. Make a sandwich. Edit a paragraph. Things that typically I can do quickly without effort, are now Herculean tasks.

Life seems empty. Like totally. Like completely black.

Blank moments. Not sure what I’m doing during them, probably because I go blank?

I fear substitute smoking products. Vaping equipment, eCigs, patches, gums, lozenges – anything that contains nicotine or mimics smoking gives me the shudders. (Lest I start smoking again).

Junk food is my new cigarette. In order to fight the cravings I’ve given myself permission to eat whatever I want in any quantity of my choosing. Consequently, I have stocked up on chips, chocolate, pastries, and candy. Oh and ice cream. Yes, so being super obese is more healthy than smoking, right?

I’m not sure that writing about my trials and tribulations of getting the nicotine monkey off my back is really helping – me or anyone else. However, maybe it is.

And I want to thank both online and offline friends who have supported me in this goal – your encouragement has made a huge difference. ❤

How about you? Have you quit smoking? Did it stick or did you have to try several times before you succeeded? What’s the weirdest thing that happened to you during cigarette withdrawal? Tell me all your smoking stories in the comments.

Annie (who is not smoking but would like to be)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Orlando

eye-1210172_640

There are no words

Only tears

There is no wisdom

Only pain

Theories…

spiraling out of control

Opinions…

Flying like petals on the wind

give

No comfort

No answer

No solution

The time is now

For stillness

For opens arms

For understanding

For gathering our humanity

Into a loving embrace

Turn off the noise

And open your heart

Listen to your brothers and sisters weeping

Turn to that

And give them comfort

This is not about you

Or your causes

This is all our tragic loss

Feel it

Let it enter your heart

And

Just

Feel

It

 

Much love and blessing to the victims and their families. I weep for you.

Annie

With your whole heart – Are you all in or all out?

heartRedWhite

I’m one of those people who does things with their whole heart. I can’t be halfway. I’m either all in or all out. It’s just how I’m wired. Some see it as a character flaw because you know, I take things to heart. I take things personally. Because to me, it is personal. I mean anything that is part of my life is personal, isn’t it?

Sure I’ve tried to develop a thick skin and act like things don’t matter. It’s just a job or a crappy review, or some guy I didn’t want to date anyway – whatever it doesn’t matter. But doesn’t it? If it’s part of your life, it is personal. Doesn’t it have to be? I think so.

I once had a friend who told me she puts things in boxes. In her head. Must be a pretty organized head, right. You know? This argument goes in this box. This catastrophe goes in this box. My grocery list goes in another box. Wow, I sit back in wonder of people who can do this. I can’t.

But the truth is, I don’t want to live in a box. I want to live in the waves that threaten to drown me and tap dance in  thunder storms wearing my tin foil hat. Wail like a banshee when something hurts. Laugh like an idiot when something tickles me. I want all the colors in the crayon box. And I don’t want to color inside the lines either. Vivid, bright colors that make you shield your eyes. I want to talk loud when I’m excited, wear red lipstick just because, and paint my nails purple because it’s pretty. Eat the whole loaf of bread I just pulled out of the oven and slather it in butter.

Life is there to live, to experience, to try, to fail, to sometimes succeed. Maybe even to fly. So…with my whole heart I choose to aim for the skies. I’m all in.Always. Come what may.

What about you? Are you all in? All out? Do you feel with your whole heart? Do you hold back because you’re worried what people will think? Do you take one cookie when you want 10?

Speak with your whole heart (or whatever part you care to share) in the comments.

Writer Chick

Christmas Lives


Among my many adventures last year, Christmas wasn’t one of them. I had moved to a new state, started a new life and had many hopes for the future. What never dawned on me was that there would be no Christmas.

And I’m one of those whacky folks who really loves Christmas. Everything about it. From the tacky decorations that the stores put up way too early, to the endless Christmas carols on the radio, to the food. Santa Hats. Reindeer ears. Candy canes. Christmas trees. Even though I hate being cold, I still secretly wish for snow every Christmas Eve.

I collect Christmas movies and force roomie to watch them with me. Typically, I have the Christmas tree up and the house decorated by Thanksgiving weekend. Oh yes, I am a Christmas nut.

But then, last year, I discovered that Christmas was not to be. There was no belief in Christmas trees, or Christmas gifts or any real celebration. It was just another day as far as he was concerned and I got tired of him asking, ‘do you want a Christmas gift?’ I figure if you have to ask then please don’t do it because clearly you don’t want to. And no one should give a gift begrudgingly.

I tried. I found a sad little tree in Home Depot and decorated it – which seemed to amuse him but not in a nice way. I cried a lot. I did send Christmas cards but they were full of apologies for not doing anything else. For being sad and broke and
un-Christmas-y. Probably would have been better off to not send them at all. And then of course, people who don’t believe in Christmas also don’t believe in New Year’s, Valentine’s Day or birthdays either. In a phrase, last year was a bust in ways too many to enumerate.

This year, however, Christmas lives. I am about to put up the tree – even though I will probably moan and groan  as I do so. I’m going to put on Christmas music, and do the house up in silly decorations and maybe tomorrow, I’ll go get some Christmas cards with Santa and reindeers on them and some smart alec saying.

I started my shopping today and though the budget is still pretty tight, there will be presents. Exchanged with people who love to do so. There will be a meal to look forward to and lots of silly, soppy sentimental movies. I’ll find a santa suit for my dog and force her to pose for pictures. I’ll drive around the neighborhood and admire the lights that people have put up. I’ll buy some Christmas candy for the homeless guys who hang around the park. I will celebrate Christmas this year because it means something to me. And it always will.

Maybe though by not having it last year I learned something interesting about Christmas – that it’s not so important how you celebrate it, but that you celebrate it. To me, there is something fundamentally humane and joyous about holidays but especially Christmas. It is the time of year that we let our guards down – we show our love for our fellow man and friends and family and neighbors. It’s special. No matter what your religious beliefs, it is kind, warm, caring, fun, happy, giving. It brings out the best in (most) of us. And I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

So, I hope all of you out there are celebrating too, in one way or another. That you are feeling the Christmas glow, or love or joy or warm fuzzies. I hope that you are feeling your own giving and kind nature and reveling in it and sharing it with others. Christmas lives. In all of us.

If I Ruled the World – Theme Friday

if i ruled the world

Welcome to my world. It’s rather sparse, actually and perhaps surprisingly. I’m not sure what inspired me to come up with this prompt – maybe because I’d recently heard the song by the same title. A pretty song, one I always liked. Or maybe it was just a brain fart because you see, I’ve been thinking about this for days and I honestly don’t know what it would be like if I ruled the world.

In fact, I’m not at all sure that I would want to rule the world. I’m not that power hungry or ambitious or motivated or whatever it is you need to be to want to rule the world. To want to determine the fate of every man, woman and child that inhabit this dusty, sorry excuse for a planet that we have here.

Maybe I should have said my hope for the world, because I have many. I hope that we can learn to live together. So much so that we don’t need someone to rule the world. So much so that there aren’t ambitious, power-hungry meglamaniacs who want to fill that need around every corner. That we can evolve as sentient beings who can live together through cooperation, empathy and understanding.

That we can get to a place where we don’t have to perpetrate hatred on another in order to feel good. That we don’t have to win so another can lose. That we don’t have to force others to see it our way so we can have our own way. That we can find a way to love our fellows despite any reasons we shouldn’t. That we answer adversity with understanding and use might sparingly and rarely.

That we could find new, better games to play in the playing field of life. Ones that reap amazing art, wonderous music and incredible advances that lift us all up. That we could not all be one, like a bunch of robots dancing to the same tune, but be ourselves and discover all the wonderful things about ourselves that we can offer to the world and ourselves.

So…if I ruled the world I would want to rule a world that didn’t need me to rule it. And then I would go play and leave the throne to the dust bunnies and spider webs.

copyright 2009

themefrilogo

What kind of world does Christine rule?

Shoes – Theme Friday

ballet-shoes, theme friday, dance, fiction, dreams

They were silken, silvered wings that hung from iridescent ribbon and called Moiré’s name whenever she passed by. She would stop and watch them, helpless against their power to enchant her. Pressing her hands and face against the glass she would wish them into her life, but all the wishing in the world didn’t make them hers. They simply hovered just out of reach and teased her with each sparkle.

“You love those shoes, don’t you, dear?” Mrs. Gamble, the shop owner, asked.

Moiré nodded and mouthed the word, yes, unable to speak in their presence.

Mrs. Gamble smiled and sighed. “I remember my first pair…they were so beautiful I was afraid to put them on. I only wanted to look at them and then put them away so they wouldn’t scuff. But they do you know. They scuff and they split and eventually you have to get new ones. The first pair, though, they are special.”

Moiré looked up at Mrs. Gamble, a plump and cheerful woman, and couldn’t imagine her leaping and pirouetting across a dance floor. Even though she’d seen the pictures on the walls of the shop, seen the awards Mrs. Gamble had earned in silver frames and spied through the window sometimes when she held dance class. Moiré wished to be in Mrs. Gamble’s class too but she knew it was only a wish that would never come – just like the shoes, she could see but not touch.

“I have to go to school,” Moiré mumbled.

“All right dear, see you later,” Mrs. Gamble waved. And she would see Moiré later because after school she would come back and commune with the shop window to covet the shoes for a while before going home.

School was filled with geography, history, English and math but Moiré’s mind held only images of pink tulle and satin, bright lights and varnished planks that gave with each landing of perfectly pointed toes. Of music so grand that you could not help but dance, that you could not help but fly through rarefied air like petals catching the breeze on a summer’s day.

Teachers frowned and admonished Moiré’s endless daydreaming and advised she learn her lessons well. The day would come when the real world would expect her to earn her keep and be a good, productive citizen. Moiré agreed and tried to memorize the fifty states, the names of dead presidents and long division but the shoes were her destiny, somehow they would save her from the dreary future the grown-ups forecasted.

***
It was dark when Moiré returned home and long past the time she was expected. Mother was red and angry as she so often was. Moiré braced for the slap sure to come. “Where have you been you little mongrel?”
Moiré shrugged and went to the kitchen. “Just around. Are you hungry? I’ll make you some soup.”

“I don’t want any soup,” the mother monster growled. “Where were you? Mooning after those damn shoes? Again?”

Moiré opened the can of soup – plop into the saucepan, whoosh, the gas flame ignited. Carefully she filled the can with water and added it to the soup then stirred. “It’s cold, the soup will taste good,” she murmured. “I think we have crackers too.”

The beast calmed and Moiré served her soup and crackers and rubbed her tired feet. “I used to dance when I was your age.”

Moiré nodded, dark blue eyes fixed on the pattern in the worn rug. “Uh huh.”

“I was damned good too,” mother lamented. “But it broke my heart. It broke my heart I tell you.” A small whimper escaped the stern mouth that once was sweet and gave kisses freely. “I just don’t want you to get your heart broken, you see?”

Again, Moiré nodded but she didn’t see. Mother fell quiet and snored softly. In silent stealth, Moiré covered mother with a blanket and took the dinner dishes to the sink.

Too tired to do any more, Moiré went to her tiny room and locked the door behind her but did not bother to turn on the light. She undressed, carefully folded her clothes and placed them on the little chair by her bed, pulled on her soft blue nightgown, then crawled into bed. When she lay down her head something felt wrong. She reached under the pillow and pulled out a pair of old, worn ballet shoes – mother’s shoes. Her heart exploded into tears and smiles and little girl giggles. And she dreamed of the dance.

themefrilogo 

Christine’s shoes are walking here and Jess’s shoes are shuffling here.

Connections – Theme Friday

Yes, Theme Friday is back with the original crew, me, Christine and Jess and we’re really all pretty jazzed. We hope you are too.

Danny walked slowly toward the entrance, though the rain saturated his lightweight jacket and plastered his dark hair to his forehead; he was in no hurry to get to his destination. There were many things worse than being rained on. Many things sadder than the rain.

The door felt heavier as he gave it a tug for the thousandth time. How many times had that old door met with his reluctant hand, he wondered.

Whoosh and thud, the door closed behind him and by so doing sealed him inside the jar of wasted souls, befuddled minds and the indifferent guardians of their final days. The air wore a perfume of antiseptic, age and grief. If tears had a smell, Danny thought, they would smell like this place. If broken hearts required real estate, they would live here. Danny’s shoes squeaked a lonely tune as he made his way to room 232.

Nora did not look up when Danny entered and it had been years since that was the case. The days when he could see the spark of her lighting up a room. The days when the wry smile that teased the corners of her mouth upward was quick and constant. The days when the connection of them was still there.

“Ma?” he asked, always hopeful there still existed a neuron somewhere deep within Nora that recognized his voice and could make her see him.

Nora, remained still in her chair – tiny and frail, so very alone behind the closed door that was her mind. She faced the only window that looked out on a small birch and some grass, and it seemed to melt as the rain clung to the windowpane.

Danny crossed the room to Nora and gently squeezed her shoulder to make his presence known. Her head turned slightly and he saw the suspicion in her eyes, where once love and adoration lived.

“Hi Ma,” Danny smiled. “It’s me, Danny. Your son.” And his heart ached and fell back when Nora’s eyes went vacant again, as they usually were.

It was the dinner hour and an orderly brought in a tray for Nora, nodded to Danny and was gone like a ghost on a mission of invisibility. Though Danny tried to get Nora to eat, the only thing she would open her mouth for was the tapioca. “Mmmmm,” she murmured after each spoonful and her eyes glimmered as some tapioca memory went live from the sensation of the taste in her mouth.

“You always loved your tapioca, huh Ma?” And he flashed on his own memory of being two and stuffing tapioca by the fistfuls into his mouth as a proud Nora egged him on.

“Where’s Daddy?” she asked, suddenly inhabited by her former self.
“Not here, Ma – maybe later.” There was no way to explain death to someone who doesn’t know who they are.

“Oh,” she murmured and was gone, leaving just the shell of what she was behind. They sat and watched the rain and millions of memories mimicked the millions of raindrops that tapped out a lullaby on the windowpane. Their connection had always run deep. Danny’s first memory was of her. The auburn curls he reached for. The bright blue eyes that spoke to him without words. The infectious laugh that always captured his own funny bone.

She taught him to love nature. To care for his dog, Snuffy. To cook. To say his prayers. And to always give others a second chance. Everything he knew about people he learned from her. Everything he held dear she’d given him one way or the other. What hurt Danny the most was that Nora no longer remembered the gifts she’d bestowed upon him and countless others. No longer knew the value she had given the world.

Danny came out of his reverie to find Nora asleep in her chair, snoring softly and twitching her nose. How that twitching nose had always endeared her to him, like sweet bunny rabbit entices a child.

Gently, he picked her up and marveled at her lack of weight and mass, seeming no heavier than Danny’s eight year old, Katie. With practiced care, Danny lay Nora in her bed and covered her with the thin, blue hospital blanket.

The rain continued to pummel the outside world and Danny sat with Nora a while longer – until the nurse told him it was time to go. Danny bent and kissed Nora’s forehead. “I love you, Mommy,” he whispered.

“I love you too,” Nora replied from her cocoon of sleep. And for a moment the connection re-ignited and Danny felt whole again.

Danny thanked God for that rare gift, walked out into the rain and let it join his tears.

themefrilogo

Jess is connecting here and Christine is connecting here – go connect with both of them, you won’t regret it.

Needy Nancy

needy

Yup, I have been a Needy Nancy. Believe it or not, this was something that just dawned on me recently. Not sure why but it probably has something to do with the fact that I went through a pretty needy period not so long ago. Truth be told I didn’t like me too much during that period either.

In looking back though I wanted to see if I could understand where it came from or if it was a good or a bad thing. I’ve always prided myself on being very independent and for most of my life have taken care of myself. Even as early age eight I had some sort of going business concern – washing cars, raking leaves, babysitting. Something to earn money. Even at that age I had a real affinity for money or more for what money could get me.

And there is nothing wrong with being independent, in fact, we encourage one another to be so. We work toward it from the first time we reach for something on our own, don’t we? The first time we push the bottle away or try to grab the spoon that mom is shoveling down that mushy lump of peas? From the cradle our impulses are always in the direction of finding our own way and making our own discoveries.

And that was me. In fact, I believe it was the source of much torment and dismay for my mother in particular. I remember distinctly a time when I was sitting at the kitchen table drinking tea and talking with my mom. I forget exactly what the topic was but I believe it had something to do with the fact that some other family member had disrespected her or embarrassed her. For an eight year old, I was giving her some pretty sage advice – like ‘forget them’ ‘you don’t need them’ ‘don’t pay any attention to them’ or something equally brilliant. Suddenly though she looked at me and started to cry. When I asked her what was wrong she lamented that I’d never been a child.

This was an odd statement considering I was only eight at the time and I pointed out to her that I was in fact, a kid. Then there was more lamenting about my not playing with dolls or some such girlie thing. I shrugged and told her I preferred books.

As the years went by the term, ‘you were born 40’ issued from Mom’s lips hundreds of times and I always marveled at why she seem to think that was such a bad thing. I suppose she was right – there was something adult about me even when I was a child – even in photographs of me as a very young child I have the same face I have today – fewer wrinkles of course, but definitely the same.

As usual, I digress – suffice to say that my independence was something I wore with great pride and in many ways became my best friend. Despite a few fragile moments in my life – my bounce-back-ability was second to none. Then last year happened…

I don’t know what it was about last year. It seemed that everyone I knew went through (and in some cases are still going through) some set back, crisis, bad news, disappointment and so forth. In my case there were many things – and they made me shaky – but it wasn’t until my friend Kelly had her accident that I began to doubt my own ability to ride the storm. I’ve talked about this many times and am not going to revisit it except to say that seemed to be the beginning of my needy nancy stage. I fought it and I fought it hard but I found more and more I had to ask for help. Something I am particularly bad at doing – it embarrasses me so. Track up to my move to the east coast and then back again – and needy doesn’t even begin to describe what was going on there.

It’s been a tough few months trying to regain independence and righting my footing. Though I had a few realizations along the way…

1. It is okay to need other people
2. It is okay to need help and to ask for it
3. It is okay to admit you aren’t bullet-proof or infallible
4. It won’t kill you to feel lost or even alone
5. It won’t hurt you to just look at the hopelessness of it all
6. Just because you need someone doesn’t mean they need you
7. If someone can’t help you doesn’t mean they don’t care
8. Other people have troubles too
9. Sometimes you just need to get over yourself.

So to all my friends who have helped to prop me up – encourage me, even dole out some tough love, I say thank you. From the bottom of my heart. Thank you.

How about you guys – any needy nanciness happening for you? What did you realize about it?