Thursday, October 30, 2008

A real Halloweenie

I've been busier than ever the last few weeks, thus the severe lack of posts. There's a lot to report on, but I'll start with a quick post from last night's pumpkin-carving and karate session.

Claire had to change from her jeans and top to a dress, get her princess "cell phone," and her purse to get all gussied up to carve pumpkins.

We were finally able to get her off the phone long enough to help with the gutting of the pumpkin. She decided it was "Ga-ROSS!" and smelled bad.

I still was able to get her to help me pick up pumpkin seeds and set them aside for roasting.

After the pumpkin was complete, Claire and I proceeded to "hide" in the bedroom as Daniel would do a "surprise attack" on us. This led to a full on karate battle between Dan and Claire -- something that occurs at least once nightly at our house. These pictures don't come close to explaining how truly amazing these karate/tickle battles are.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


I have not smoked 21,929 cigarettes in the last three years. Yes, it has been three years since I quit smoking, which I think will continue to baffle me each year.

Here are some stats from the Web site I joined when I quit smoking in 2005:

Time Smoke-Free: 1096 days, 10 hours, 56 minutes and 53 seconds

Cigarettes NOT smoked: 21,929

Lifetime Saved: 5 months, 17 days, 12 hours

Money Saved: $7,124.00

I'm happy (and proud, I guess) to say I have never taken a single puff of a cigarette in the last 1,096 days. In honor of this occasion, allow me to post a blog that I wrote on the day of the 2006 Great American Smokeout, not long after my very first anniversary.

Nov. 16, 2006

Cough, Hack, Wheeze
Today is the Great American Smokeout, that day when even the smokiest of smokers are supposed to put down their pack for the day and contemplate quitting. For many years I tried and would make it approximately 13 minutes before I threw in the towel and turned to my delicious Parliament Lights for comfort.

I can't believe it's been more than a year since I quit. Not that I'm proud of it, but we all know I was the biggest smoker around. When Timmy and I lived together, he once said if MSU had a smoking team, I would be the captain. At the time I pretended to be offended. I'm finally ready to admit he was right.

I loved smoking. I've determined the only two things I did while not smoking were sleep and shower – and that's pushing it. As I rounded that one-year corner, many of you admitted you never thought I would actually quit and stick to it. Most recently a friend from high school seriously thought I was joking when I told him I quit last year.

I cried and cried the day I quit. I think largely because I had stayed up until 5 a.m. boozing and chain smoking. If I didn't go to sleep, it wasn't really the next day, and I didn't have to quit yet. But, I think I also was crying because I knew that I meant it this time. I wasn't going to let myself throw in the towel for once, and that was terrifying.

So, I got up after a few hours of drunken sleep to head to my second ever acupuncture appointment. I cried through that too – tears streaming down my face onto the table as this annoyingly happy and calm woman inserted needles into my "addiction points." She was sure to mention that the needle on the very top of my head was for my "mental health." Then I went off to work at the bar, handing out ashtrays and matches upon request for the next six hours.

It was much easier to quit than I expected or had ever experienced before, but it's tough to say whether that was because of the acupuncture or because I finally realized no 27-year-old should be walking around with a cough like that. No amount of gum, perfume or Febreeze could cover up that damn cough.

Three months later, I joined the YMCA. My panting at the top of the train platform each morning had long been an indication of the poor condition of my lungs and the rest of my body. But I don't know if I've ever felt more uncomfortable as the first time I walked into a gym. I came upon each machine in total confusion and as if it might attack at any moment. It was on this day I was introduced to an elliptical machine – a legendary creature I'd only heard of in the tales of my clear-breathing friends. If you had told me a year ago I would not only quit smoking, but that my lazy ass would get off the couch and start working out – if only occasionally – I never would have believed you.

According to one Web site's calculations, in the roughly 400 days since I quit smoking, I have not smoked 8, 232 cigarettes; I have saved two months and three days of my life; and I have saved $2,672. One trip to Hawaii and several pairs of shoes "that I deserve for quitting" later, I don't know if I can say I've tried to save much of anything.

I have had to relearn how to do many things including drive for hours, drink and complete a meal – all without a cigarette. I gained 15 pounds (and eventually lost 10), which means I still went up a size and that's fine. I sound better, I smell better and I've never felt better.

I understand why the American Cancer Society pushes and promotes this day each year. Smoking is not good for you. You gain nothing from it in the long run. Blah, blah, blah. All of that doesn't make it any easier to quit. Even for one day.

For me, the pressure to quit and the stress and guilt of knowing what it was doing to my body made it harder to quit. So, I guess my point is – don't quit. Smoke until you're ready to say good-bye to cigarettes forever, or you never will.

I'll be patient and I won't judge. You can still smoke in my car. I'll still pick you up some cheap smokes on my way through Indiana. I do, in fact, have a lighter you can use, and, yes, we can sit in the smoking section. I might even go on my back porch and freeze with you while you smoke it up. Sometimes I get lonely inside all by myself.