Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Shining a Light on Things: Spending time with family, Batman & a real-life Joker


I wish it was the weekend again. These last couple days at work have been downright criminal with system problems, & I'm beginning to feel like my favorite hero here...(I'm not kidding, when will it all end?!) 

Getting back to the weekend, this past one couldn't have been nicer. Sunday morning I finally bit the bullet & drove to my sister Donda's house in West Virginia for the first time. (It's only the second time I've been there too.) I've often talked about making the trip down, but she lives HOURS away from me and truth be told, I felt a little apprehensive about doing this solo.

But the weather was gorgeous & I enjoyed the long drive--even when I got lost!

But the important thing is, I got to spend a sunny day with Donda & my beautiful niece Drew. (I only wish I didn't have to work yesterday, it would've been nice to hang out with them for the evening. We're both night owls... my next trip may have to be an overnighter!)


Donda, I sure love what you did with the place!  So about those refreshments...

After my arrival, we spent a leisurely hour or so sipping cherry Cokes & carrying on (including some wobbling around on Drew's trampoline while Miss Olympic did handsprings behind me) & then we all piled in the car & went to Arby's to grab something quick before hitting the theater to see the new Batman movie.

(I'm not going to post any personal reviews here; I don't think I enjoyed it as much as admired it, but Batman seems more a hero for adults now than kids...it was pretty dark.)


‘The Dark Knight' was a fine but sad tribute to Heath Ledger; man, his portrayal of the Joker outshone everything else in the movie! He really was brilliant.

There's really not much else to say here, other than a big thank you to my sister & niece for spending their Sunday with me.

They even sent me home with two big hunks of my favorite dessert, a pineapple upside down cake that Drew made--it was excellent!

(This kid is almost as tall as me--what happened to that shy little ten year old with the nifty detective kit?) No matter, she's as sweet as ever & quite the young lady.


I was planning to end this bat-blog here, but a friend recently showed me something online and I felt compelled to share it here.

I generally like to keep my blog in an 'up tempo', but at the same time I don’t want to pretend I’m not dealing with some fucking psycho. 

Part 2:  A Real-Life Villain (What would the Batman Do?)


Here is the jist of it; a former acquaintance of mine (from across the Atlantic) recently posted something on his creepy blog page that I took to heart.

He didn't use my name, he didn’t have to; seeing how he makes a point of letting everyone know how much he despises me (why?) and his Netherlands IP showed up in my blog’s visitor tracker shortly before his drunken rant, it didn’t take much bat-sleuthing to know that he's talking about me here. 

Here’s what he had to say about yours truly.

617D5C2B848A9C67_4053_5[1]"Have you ever noticed how the numb nutz who have no life in reality tend to have the biggest counterfeit lives in hyperspace? I mean what normal person has time to build sites and fill it with reams of tedious photos of their humdrum existence? It would be sad and pathetic if it wasn't so sad and pathetic.

I guess it explains why most of them middle-aged losers are still single. No time for the present when the past is in such dire need of embellishment. I guess society at large should be relieved that the potential child molesters find some release for their pent up sexuality."

(A friend of mine saw it, pointed it out to me, and posted his feelings about it before this joker took it back down.  It was up there long enough, though. I kept a screen-print.)

When I first read it, I wanted to respond yes, my blog is filled to the rafters with nonsense, and yes I've probably spent far too much time on it too.  I just see this as a hobby, what's the harm?  How is it different from coin or stamp collectors?  I know people who spend entire evenings for weeks at a time building airplane or ship models, woodworking, restoring old cars.  Or blogging. 

But my response would just be a waste of time—and what I choose to post here is MY business.  Of course. David’s comments here (especially the child molester line) were so filled with hatred & poison… I’ll never understand it.

It’s so weird, there was once a time & place when I actually admired this guy.  But I’d much rather be sad & pathetic than this two-faced monster.


Saturday, July 19, 2008

It’s been two weeks! (and one day, four hours & 17 odd minutes… but who’s counting)



Well, as of this Saturday morning, it's now been a little over 15 days since I had my last cigarette. And I've got to be really honest here; there are moments when I feel as if the last 25 years of smoking has been a dream, but other moments (far more, I'm afraid) where these 15 or so days feel more like it's only been 15 minutes.

I don't mean that to sound like 'time flies when you're having fun'; it's more like 'I could go outside for a smoke just as easily now as I did the last time I had one.  Ugh!



July 4, 2008 was my own Independence Day (it wasn't planned, I just decided the night before I’d had enough)

It's almost funny now, but a couple days ago I came pretty close to buckling; Thursday afternoon in the office, there was a large chocolate cake & I had just helped myself to a really big piece (with a cup of hazelnut coffee). After I finished, it suddenly occurred to me how good a cigarette would taste just about now, and I thought "oh the hell with it, where's a lighter??" (Y'see, I've been carrying an unopened pack of smokes in my workbag for the last 2 weeks as a feeling of empowerment; I'd often look in my bag, see them in there & think "I don't need you, do you hear?!")

My near-mistake was asking a co-worker if she by chance had a lighter or pack of matches. Four sets of ears perked right up & that pack of smokes was wrestled away from me.

And it hit me, I wasn't feeling very empowered carrying those around anymore.

I promptly called one of my former smoking buddies (who worked below me on the fifth floor) and said "You still smoke Basic Lights, right? You just hit the jackpot."



My hidden stash, which I lied to Julie Darling about & said I had thrown away

So early yesterday morning, I packed up my workbag with all the smoking paraphernalia I've had hidden away in my apartment--27 packs of smokes, 4 brand new lighters, and my 'lucky chocolate' ashtray. Brought it all to work & handed it over to "Bea", a woman in her fifties who kept licking her lips & whispering "you poor baby, I feel your pain..." Yeah right, she couldn't wait to get back downstairs and start smokin'!

Someone asked me if she'd given me anything in return for it & I said no--the pain of parting with both those cigs (and the money I had spent on them) would be a good reminder that I can't go back. Frack!

Time for some Frequently Asked Questions

  • Q: Okay Doug, just admit it; don't you feel so much healthier?
  • A: Well, I'm not hacking in the morning now, and I should be grateful for that, but I feel pretty tired most of the time now. And crabby too, dammit!
  • Q: Have you noticed that your sense of smell has improved, and food tastes a lot better?
  • A: Yes, I can now smell a cigarette from a half-mile away!  Okay okay, I’ve noticed my taste-buds are enjoying the lack of smoke.
  • Q: Is that fake cig you puff on helping any? Are you gaining any weight?
  • A: Yes I LOVE my "water-stick", but I think I'm addicted to inhaling steam now.  As for the weight gain, need you ask?
  • Q: I know you're not a religious person, but I'm going to pray for you.
  • A: No! No prayer! I'm not letting your Sky-Man take any credit for this!



To be honest, I just don't feel like a 'real quitter' yet. I'm still 'puffing away' on my water-stick (which emits clouds of water vapor) and has a slight nutty flavor.

It's the first thing I reach for in the morning now. But at least it's clean, harmless, and I'm not inhaling burning tobacco (or those other 4000 chemicals they're always warning about). My breath & hands smell clean, my clothes & hair smell like soap, and my poor lungs are finally getting fresh air for the first time in years.

Sometimes it's somewhat satisfying; and other times not at all.

I (along with my sister Donda, who is going through the EXACT same thing) just need to keep taking this one day at a time.

Hang in there, Cissy


Saturday, July 5, 2008

When it comes to smoking, it’s time I come clean



After years of talking about it, I’m finally doing it.  The night before last, right before bed I went outside for my “last smoke of the day” and I have no idea why, but a little voice inside of me said “This is the last time I’ll do this.  I’m done.”   It’s been 48 hours, and after 25 years of smoking (and never going more than a couple hours without one), I just went 48 hours smoke-free.

Actually, something has happened earlier this week that's given me the courage to finally speak up about it, and real hope where I didn't believe hope existed before.

The Personal Facts

  • I've been a smoker since late 1979, at the age of 17.  I've always smoked a pack (20 cigs) a day, sometimes more, never less.  (I did switch to a light cigarette years ago & never went back to anything heavier, but still--a pack a day.)
  • I'm obsessed about the smell, and wash my hands and chew on mints after each & every one.  Every winter my hands crack and bleed from the excessive washing.
  • I avoid smoking around other people, & I don't smoke before I get on the bus (so I won't smell of tobacco on my way to or from my job).
  • I've never smoked in my car or my apartment.  Not once. 
  • As long as I can remember, I've always felt the same way about smoking; ashamed that I engage in such a dirty & dangerous habit, but absolute panic at the thought of quitting.

    It seems that at least once a month, someone in my life (both recently met or whom I've been acquainted with for awhile) will discover I'm a smoker & say "Doug, you smoke??  Omigod I can't believe it--you're not the type!"   I'm never sure what that means, but nonetheless, I've always felt that way about myself too.



    The vegetable drawer in my  refrigerator is where I store my 'secret stash' of Basic Lights


    For years, I blamed others (besides myself) for the habit.  My mom & dad were both smokers, but in the 60's & 70's, it was such a different time; the dangers were known, but it just wasn't looked down on like it is today.   They never blew it in our faces, but didn't rush outside to have one either.  Emptying ashtrays (or even 'picking up their smokes' for them at the grocery store) was just a way of life.



    My best friend Dan, at our farmhouse


    My best friend Dan (who from the age of 16 was already a fairly heavy smoker) would occasionally offer me one.  No pressure, none of that crap.  Sometimes I took one when we were running around, sometimes not.  They never seemed to affect me.  And when Dan wasn't around, I didn't think about 'em.

    I honestly will never forget the day it actually started.  Friday, June 08, 1979.  I worked weekends at my first 'after-school job', The Old Southern Pancake & Steak House.  When business was slow, the staff would all gather in the back of the restaurant & eat pancakes and tell jokes.  And on that fateful night, when one of the waitresses (Brenda) offered me a cigarette, I said sure & was happily puffing away when she said:  "How come you don't inhale?" 

    I had no idea what she meant--I thought you just twirled it around in your mouth for a bit & then blew it out.   After that first inhale, I got really dizzy and nearly retched.  One week later I bought my first pack.



    Me, around 20 years old.  Idiot!

    When I went to my parents & admitted I was smoking, my mom wearily said "Well, we knew one of you kids would pick up the habit..."   God, how I wish they had kicked my ass instead!


    A Couple Quirky Apache-Facts

    • In all the years I've been smoking, I only tried quitting once--in April 1988.  I was preparing to move to Pittsburgh that summer to go to school, & didn't want anyone knowing I was once a smoker.   I didn't last 2 days.
    • I've only dated one girl who smoked, Charlotte C. in the early 80s;  and a few years ago, I was with my last girlfriend for nearly two months before she discovered my 'secret'.  (Needless to say, she was not impressed or amused...)


    But last week while watching 'foreign tv' on YouTube, I came across a couple interesting commercials about something called "e-smoking".  

    The device originated in China just last year--it had a phenomenal success rate, and it's yet to make a ripple in America, but I suspect it's going to be huge here.  Normally I'm very cynical about such things, and would've shrugged my shoulders and said "Bah, another gimmick"... but I just have a gut feeling about this.  I’ve been reading account after account (on various smokers message boards) from smokers who were surprising themselves by losing the desire for real cigarettes.  

    I was more curious than hopeful; I thought I might be able to cut 4 or 5 cigarettes from my daily habit of 20+.  I received it this past Monday, 5 days ago.  And since then, I haven't smoked more than 5 or 6 cigarettes in the last several days.  And I’ve now gone two days without a single cigarette.  I can’t believe it.



    Yikes!  Trying to avoid this early grave...

    FYI, here's how to tell the difference between a non-smoker and a smoker.  Tell a 'non' this, & you hear "that's nice" or "well, you're just trading one addiction for another".  Tell a smoker, and you’ll get "OMIGOD, REALLY?  REALLY??!"

    The after-effects (all beneficial) have been pretty quick, it seems.  I am constantly surprised at:  1) how much better I seem to be breathing 2) how much less I am coughing 3) how clean my hands and clothes smell 4) how much I am NOT thinking of real cigarettes.

    And in particular, for the first time since I was a teenager, how much guilt I am suddenly not carrying.  This device is pretty remarkable; it's more satisfying than I even dared hope.

    I'm still not sure what's going to happen next; to be honest, I wasn't planning to quit smoking altogether, just cut down some.  But (for the first time ever) a life without fire and smoke... it doesn't seem so far-fetched.