Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Goodbye to a Bad Habit

As part of my smoking cessation class, I was asked to write a goodbye letter to my habit. Here it is. My quit day is next Monday, February 6th.

A Farewell to a Dear and Destructive Friend –

This is it, a final goodbye to a relationship which has lasted over twenty years. Though we met in infancy, via my Mother’s habit, it wasn’t until college that we started going steady. Smoking and being a smoker has been a large part of my life since I was 19. At first, smoking was a social thing, something I shared with most of my friends. Over the years, the habit has come to isolate and abuse me in ways I never imagined.

Cigarettes were with me on my move from adolescence to adulthood, from crazy college abandon to sobering motherhood. With a puff here and there, I used the little breaks to pass the time, taking a moment out of whatever I was doing to relax or perk up. At times, cigarettes were my passport to new friends and relationships; asking strangers for a light almost guaranteed a conversation. This habit allowed me to form friendships within a large corporation that my non-smoking peers envied.

But as time has passed, cigarettes have cost me. The price of each pack has risen steadily each year – urged on by government taxes. Society shuns the smoker, forcing me outside in the cold or into stinking little rooms. Even when attending an outdoor event, I isolate myself from the crowd, because so many people are offended by my habit. Smoking stigmatizes me, instead of making me look cool. I look foolish – puffing in a corner outside in the cold.

At forty, I’m not young anymore. Cigarettes are aging me quickly. My breath is not easy or silent all the time; my skin is dry and ashy. Each morning I coax my feet to life because my circulation doesn’t carry the oxygen I need to my toes. I limp around in the morning, cursing the pain, as I light another smoke and take a little break. I’m sure I stink, but no one really comes close enough to notice.

This addiction must end. My brother, Mike died in 2004 and my Dad died in September. I revisit the sorrow of my mother’s death, from lung cancer, fifteen years ago; I don’t want people murmuring in the back of the funeral parlor, ‘well, she was a smoker’. I don’t want to worry or embarrass my daughter anymore. I can’t laugh off death as easily, I see it up close these days. We all must die, but I really don’t want to actively pursue it by picking up the ‘cancer sticks’ day after day.

So, this is the end. I am not going to smoke anymore, it makes no sense and it hurts me with every puff. It’s over, it’s not charming or social; it’s stinky and dangerous.

Your former servant

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Talk about Nerve!

From Scotland:

An Islamic group is asking the local Catholic School to convert to Islam.

AN ISLAMIC campaign group has called for a Catholic primary school to be based on the Muslim faith. The Campaign for Muslim Schools said 90 per cent of
pupils at St Albert's Primary, in the Pollokshields area of Glasgow, are Muslim,
yet children are having to take part in Catholic rituals like saying the Lord's
Prayer and attending mass.

Osama Saeed, co-ordinator of the alliance of Glasgow's main mosques and Muslim organisations, said he could see no reason why the main faith of the school should not change.

He said: "Clearly the parents of that area find a faith school, even if it is of another denomination, preferable to a secular one. But surely it should be possible for them to have one that is relevant to their own faith.

"To move towards this would be a fantastic example of good faith - in more ways than one - on the part of the Church."

Click here for more from the Scotsman's report.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Books of 2005 -- My Reads

2005 Reading - didn't date much, but I read. Here's the list and some of my reflections.

The Scarlet Letter (Hawthorne) -- I loved revisiting this classic, my life experiences since reading this in high school really made this a different novel.
Road Fever (Cahill) -- Fun little read about driving across the Western Hemisphere - from the tip of South America to the northern shore of Alaska.
The Paradox of Choice (Schwartz) -- Interesting, it seems that the more choices we have, the less happy we may be. Some good insight into why I am so easily confused with all the investment options and drinks available in the world.
Blue Shoes (LaMott) -- I liked the writer's style, but the story was not too compelling.
Without Conscience (Hart) -- Everything you need to know about the sociopathic mind. A bit dry, but perhaps useful. (At least I know I'm not one and you probably aren't one either.)
The Great Influenza (Barry) -- Fantastic history of the 1918 Flu. The third book I've read on the subject. I learned alot of the history of medicine in the US as well as the scope of this pandemic.
I, Fatty: a novel (Stahl) -- I always was always interested in the Fatty Arbuckle story, so I picked this one up. It's a fictional biography which wasn't that well written.
The Well of Lost Plots (Fforde) -- This carries on the Thursday Next series which I just love. Fun and clever, perfect for silly, over-read people like me.
Looking for Mr. Goodbar (Rossner) -- This novel & movie were intriguing to me when I was younger. A pretty good novel about a rather pitiful and dislikable woman. As a dateless wonder, I probably shouldn't have read this.
Bookmark Now (Smokler) -- A collection of essays about the current world of writing. Everyone says the book world is dead, but these writers disagree.
Little Children (Perrotta) -- Good current novel set in suburbia. Good for book groups.
The Island of Lost Maps (Harvey) -- Good non-fiction which combines the history of mapmaking with the tale of a map thief who stole maps all across America.
Kitchen Confidential (Bourdain) -- An insiders view of the restaurant world. A well written and fun read.
Something Rotten (Fforde) -- Another Thursday Next book, this time it's fun with Hamlet.
Blue Blood (Conlon) -- Biography of a 3rd generation New York Cop, who went to Harvard. Though interesting, I thought the writing was uneven - as if it were hurried to press.
The Speckled Monster (Carrell) -- Well researched and written account of the Small Pox and the beginning of innoculation. I just love those disease books.
1491 (Mann) -- Outstanding book! A review of modern research on Pre-Colombian America which offers real insight into the cultures of America. A must read because this isn't the story we got in school.
The Sunday Philosophy Club (Smith) -- I was disappointed in this little mystery. As the first book of a new series by the author of the #1 Ladies Detective Agency novels, I expected something more interesting.

Once again my reading has been all over the place; 8 fiction titles vs. 10 non-fiction. I just seem to pick up whatever looks good, no accounting for consistency. I guess this just fuels my wealth of trivial knowledge and hunger to read more.