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Thursday, July 28, 2005

After the clouds go to bed...

I realized today that I've spent most of my life yearning. Sometimes in earnest, sometimes the yearning is set on simmer, but it's always there. I spent a little time analyzing just what's causing me such angst...

While everyone certainly wants more moolah and bigger, better, fancier, flashier toys, I'm pretty satisfied with what I have. Dagmar and I will never be rich; to the contrary, I'm reasonably sure we'll always struggle with debt - but we have food, clothes, a place to call home and a VERY happy marriage... But still I have this strange yearning. Why? It took me a long time to figure it out...

I want time.

That's all. I want time. I want a summer off. I want a summer like they used to be. I want the kind of a summer that can only happen to kids between the ages of five and nine - when you're old enough to go outside and play on your own, but you're young enough that you don't know there are things you're not supposed to do. That's what I want.

I remember waking up in the morning, lazing in bed and watching the shadows in my room move, the dust motes slowly swirling in a sunbeam. A single, well-aimed breath would make them dance, even from all the way across the room - but once you've made the dust dance in the sunlight, you have to be patient for a long time before you can do it again. One look out the window and you knew if it was a wet, dewy sort of day or a dry, dusty sort of day. Both are good, but it's best to wear shoes if it's a wet, dewy sort of day. Out the room, down the stairs and out the door - sometimes fully clothed, sometimes wearing nothing but britches - it all depended on who caught you before you got out the door. Never mind taking a shower - time enough to do that later, after the clouds go to bed.

Growing up on a farm spoiled me. Once out the door, so many things to do. But, there was never a decision to make. Within thirty seconds of leaving the house, something would capture my energy - sometimes a pretty bug climbing up a tallish stem of grass to get a good look at his kingdom, other times a sparkly rock would keep me entertained for a while, dreaming of the places it had been. Sometimes I'd want to see the sky, so I'd wander off to the fields where the trees stand solitaire along the edges of the rows, keeping watch.

The sky can look powerful big when the trees are far away - a good place to watch the clouds. How far can the clouds see? Can they see all the way to town? Where have they been? Did they like it there? Sometimes, though, it's nice to watch the clouds with just one tree to keep you company. That's easy enough... If you do it right, you can find a spot under a tree where the green leaves make the sky look electric blue - that's the best.

Ooh - there's a milkweed. Any butterflies around? They like milkweeds. There are usually some butterflies in the fields, but sometimes they like to go in the grove and hang out with the trees there for a while. Off to chase the flutterbyes.

The grove is always a fun place to be. Davy Crockett and Dan'l Boone help me sneak through the woods, so quiet and slow the rabbits don't notice me. Sometimes it's nice to go slow, to feel the leaves brush against you, to look at the bark on the trees, to smell the grass, to wonder at the complexity and harmony. Sometimes it's nice to be a rabbit. I could never get my nose to wriggle right, though. Other times it's fun to help Stanley and Livingston find their way out of the wilderness, making lots of noise so the elephants don't attack. Sometimes it's nice to climb a tree. If you're real still in a tree sometimes a bird will land close.

Sometimes there are birds in the barns. But sometimes there are bees and wasps and hornets, too. Best not to go there. Better to play in the dust for a while. Ever figure out why there's so much dust over here, but not so much over there? Why does it pile in one place when it's outside? Or is it just a thing that happens on farms in the summer? Throwing a handful of dust if fun, if you're not throwing for distance.

You could tell when it's getting late - the cicadas start whirring, the crickets tune their orchestras, the frogs tell the crickets to shut up, sometimes the first lightning bug of the night flashes. Time to go in. Gotta pause for a while first, though - this is the best time to listen. How many crickets are there? Where are the frogs, anyway? Why can't I find the frogs in the daytime?

Methinks the joy of childhood summers lies partly in the patience to take the world at it's own pace, and partly the knowledge that you have no responsibilities. Of course someone has to cook the meals and clean things and do all the things that need to be done by responsible people, but can't we wait until the clouds go to sleep to do that? There's plenty of time...

So, that's what I'm yearning for. I want one more childhood summer on the farm. But this time I want company - I want my wife there. It's more fun to look at bugs if you have someone you like with you. I promise, if I get my summer, I'll waste it well.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Still Going...

Day four without a cigarette. It's not getting any easier. I still feel short of breath constantly, but I'm always close to hyperventilating at the same time. My heart starts pounding so hard I'm surprised people around me can't feel it. Bits and pieces of me go numb for no apparent reason from time to time. Three and a half days and I'll be through the first week. Things should get easier then.

I hope I get my sense of humor back someday.

10:30 p.m.
Hey, I made it through rehearsal without too much of a problem! (Thanks Dan!) Things are starting to look up. A couple more months and I should be done with this silly smoking thing...

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Day Three

Day three of not smoking. It's 1:37 a.m. and I've already been up for an hour...

I'm not looking forward to today at all. It's been said that the third day is the hardest - something about the body being in the last throes of the physical addiction. (Ever notice that nothing is ever in the first throes? It's always the final throes or the last throes...) It's an odd feeling - the heart races, I find myself holding my breath so I don't hyperventilate, odd shots of adreneline at strange times, my skin feels like it's crawling off me sometimes. I've even caught my eyes trying to cross every now and then. Strange little surges of anger at random times. Last time I quit smoking I had to find a completely new set of friends - I hope that doesn't happen this time!

On a completely unrelated topic - it looks like our 95+ temperatures are finished. We've been in the upper 90s or lower 100s for a few weeks now. With any luck I'll be able to get the bike out again! (Riding in this weather is like, oh, sitting in front of your TV watching the Travel Channel, holding a blow dryer in front of your face.) Tomorrow's high is 73. It's been weeks since I've been able to do any yardwork - it's just been too hot! So I mow tomorrow. Then I trim. Then I sweep. Then I mow again. (I have a reel mower. It's nice, but not the most efficient mower when the grass is long. Sometimes I gotta mow the same patch three times.)

It's now 2:05 a.m. - I've managed to fill 28 minutes without smoking. Only 22 more hours and I'm done with day three.

6:18 a.m.
Slept a few hours - the cat snoozed on my feet. I just heard one of the dumbest things I've heard in a long time. I can understand banning smoking in SMALL restaurants, but New Jersey is trying to draw a new line in the sand. They're trying to fine people $250 for smoking in their own cars. To me, that's government intrusion at its worst. If they can prove, scientifically, that smoking in a car increases the chance of an accident, then fine - BAN CARS. Make 'em all drive Segways. Let's face it - as long as we all insist on driving cars, there will be those that insist on driving drunk or on a cell phone. One of my goofy little daydreams is to sit in a hydrogen powered fuel cell car reading a book whilst it tootles itself down an automated highway.

Having grown up in the midwest, I have ridden on mass transit systems five times in my life (not counting the school bus when I was a kid). A bus trip and two airplane trips for the military, a plane trip for a band, and an Amtrack trip for Boy Scouts. That makes me sad. I'm almost 40. Would I take advantage of mass transit? Not the way it is now in Sioux City... I would, though, if there was a bus or train to Omaha or Sioux Falls from here. At today's gas prices, it'd even make a certain amount of sense to take a bus to Omaha and hire a taxi to take you where you needed to go.

Well, that little rant distracted my nicotine-deprived brain for 20 minutes. I am REALLY looking forward to being a non-smoker, but the first few weeks are gonna suck. I thank God that Dagmar is being VERY patient and supportive. Of all the people, she's my favorite.

11:58 a.m.
Almost halfway through day three. Of course, I cheated. No I didn't smoke a cigarette, but I didn't go to work either. Dagmar's home ill today, and, to be honest, I wouldn't be much good at work anyway. All I'm doing is staring at my computer, holding my breath, trying not to smoke, feeling my wisdom teeth grind, and trying telekinesis to move my my "bad" cholesterol into my toenails where it can't do any damage.

Dagmar told me this morning that she read somewhere that the average craving lasts thirty seconds. "Great," I replied. "But my cravings are only twenty seconds apart!"

5:04 p.m.
The new low cholesterol diet seems to be going okay. Last night we had salad (with basalmic vinegar and olive oil - no dressing) with boiled chicken mixed in. I liked it. For breakfast we had oatmush with apple chunks, walnuts and organic maple syrup mixed in. I didn't like it so much. For lunch we had chicken mango wraps (whole grain tortillas) with red peppers and onions and stuff. I really liked that! Dagmar's in the kitchen right now messing around with some butterfly chops (fat removed) she's gonna bake somehow. Our refrigerator has never looked healthier. Dagmar keeps opening the fridge door and peering inside, proud of all the health food.

The no-smoking thing is still challenging, especially after a meal. I'm afraid to eat, to be honest, because the craving for a cigarette is so bad afterwards. So I'm holding my breath a lot... Tomorrow should be better. In an hour or two I'm gonna take a sleepy-pill and go to bed - maybe I can sleep it off.

My jaw is sore - the wisdom teeth are still bothering me. The dentist told me yesterday, "...if you were nineteen, I'd tell you to get them all pulled. But, at your age... Well, let's just see what happens..." So I'm teething, and I'm not happy about it. One of my bottom wisdom teeth is coming in sideways, which is pushing all my other teeth around. The other bottom one is coming up underneath one of my molars. That should be fun... The top ones are "erupting" already, but they seem to be coming in straight, anyway.

High cholesterol, quitting smoking, and wisdom teeth all in the same few days. Life's gonna be different. I don't think I'll have any problems with any of it, once I get through the next week or so without cigarettes and stop being twitchy and weird.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Day Two, The Saga Continues

Okay, now this is just plain miserable. Two days without a cigarette.

I had to go to work today. That means I had to leave the house, walk past the table my ashtray used to sit on, get in my car where I chain-smoked, and go to my office, where I'd take a break every hour on the hour to smoke a cigarette. Reminders everywhere.

But, I'm through the first two days. They say things start getting easier on the fourth day. We'll see about that. All I know for sure is that Day Two was just plain miserable. Icky miserable. Sucky, even. I was okay at work as long as I stared at my computer screen and did non-vital busy work. My attention span can now be measured in seconds rather than minutes. Every time I stood up to start another project, my feet would try to lead me outside to the loading dock, otherwise known as the company's smoking area. I went through three packs of gum.

Tomorrow may be bad, too, but I'm optimistic that this will get easier. (They say it's easier to quit heroin or cocain than it is to quit tobacco. Dunno if that's true or not, but it makes me feel better somehow.)

The doctor told me last week that I had dangerously high cholesterol levels. That's fun. So now I'm on medication and a funky diet. Today the dentist told me my wisdom teeth are "erupting." That sounds like fun. Though the doctor seems to think I'll be on meds for life for cholesterol, I'm hoping that a combination of diet, exercise and quitting smoking will get me off the medication. It's expensive stuff!

Geeze, it's gonna be a tough gig this weekend, sans cigarettes... Whimper whimper whine.

But, when I woke up this morning, I could breathe. I haven't had a coughing fit all day, and that funny little pain in my chest has gone away.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Day One

Quit smoking today. Haven't had a cigarette since I got home from last night's gig in Lawton. It's not bad today, but I'm afraid to leave the house. As long as I sit right here and play on the computer and keep distracted, I'm okay.

Wish me luck.

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