There I was, walking around this tiny island, and there she was- laying out- sunbathing. It was love at first sight. I couldn't help myself. I ran through the trees, and quickly grabbed her from behind and declared my love for her. She was surprised, but I knew this would be one of those stories that we told our kids, and they told our grandkids...
But she didn't seem that happy with my decisions... our love quickly turned sour.
So I've accidentally- temporarily given up smoking.
Let me say this- Smoking is a gross habit. It really is. I'm not going to tell anybody not to pick it up. We're all adults here- we can all make up our own minds to do what we want.
I didn't smoke for a really long time. Then one day I picked it up. Peer pressure. No kidding! And I was a total adult. I was working a full time job, living on my own, doing things, trying to make it happen, young guy in the big city (well the suburbs of a big city)... and I realized all the women I wanted to go out with- the same women that didn't want to go out with me- but rather with other people- they all smoked. And the men that did get those women who rejected me- they smoked too. So logic dictates that I too should smoke, then I will have someone to sleep with at nights!
Now you're thinking, "Jeff- that's so... after school special! That's so... I can't believe you would fall for that-"
Shut it. I picked up smoking, and within a month I was having sex. Peer pressure is a real thing, and its a real thing for a real reason. I instantly became more interesting. I went from the guy that didn't smoke, to the guy who was so damaged I did all of a sudden smoke. And I've been smoking ever since.
Except I found myself picking up smoking at the beginning of the great, "let's get rid of all smokers!" movement. Now smoking is banned everywhere- and cigarettes cost $37.76 a pack. And I found that more and more of my friends who have been smoking since they were 8 years old have, or were now trying to quit.
After smoking of a couple of years I decided to try and quit- but it never really took more than a couple of months. And so I just kind of gave up on giving up. Not really because I felt particularly addicted to it- it was just something to do on the drive home from work. But now... now I find that I have accidentally given up.
I say accidentally because I didn't really mean to stop smoking- I just didn't smoke one day, then I didn't smoke the next, or the day after that, or the day after that- and now it's been nearly a week, and I guess what started as poor time management skills and laziness, and a bit of a cold, and semi not wanting to spend money turned into a good habit?
See, I never really found time to go to the store to get another pack of cigs (after smoking the last of my last pack)- and I was always running somewhere with just enough time to get to the place I wanted to go- or I was sleeping- or working- or just not in a place to get more cigs.
Sidenote: I've been to places like the grocery store, or Target a number of times over the past week, but I always feel extra skeezy buying cigarettes from places where I can buy actual produce (Grocery store) or underwear (Target).
It's perfectly okay to buy cigs at a gas station because it's the one place you can smoke a cig and blow up a city block in the process... plus depending on what gas station you're at, in whichever part of town you're in- there always the possibility that there's someone cooking up crank while having sex with a transvestite hooker in the bathroom, so buying a pack of Camel Turkish Gold really makes me seem like a young boyish innocent.
BUT if I were to buy a pack at Target, well then- Isaac Mizrahi would be very upset with me. Smoking doesn't seem to fit in that well with Targets anti-union- pro college hipster vibe. I'm sure there are plenty of people who work and shop at Target who smoke, and I'm sure there are plenty of people who buy there cigarettes at Target, but I just feel funny buying a pack of 4 t-shirts, some Old Spice body wash, an Elmo doll, a pint of ice cream, The Matrix Revolutions on DVD and a pack of cigarettes all in one transaction.
Cigarettes should be bought with beer or gas, and that's it.
That's why I can't buy them at the grocery store either.
"I'd like to buy three Granny Smith apples, some bread, and a pack of Camels please."
Gross. That's just gross.
So- I haven't bought cigs this past week. It didn't hurt my non smoking trend that I've developed a summer cold (what the hell life? I know many people catch colds in the summer- but seriously, it's been 100 + degrees for the last month here in Texas... who catches a cold in that? Me. That's who). and I hate the taste of cigarette and phlegm.
Also, I went out of town last weekend. And I was kinda saving my money prior to that trip, and since lawmakers want to tax people to health (Making cigarettes so expensive people will no longer want to buy them- though aren't we in some kind of debt crisis? Are you saying that the people you want to tax out of smoking are the only reason this country is keeping afloat?)
So, all these things added up- sickness, money saving, laziness, and unwillingness to buy cigarettes at the grocery store or Target- to me not smoking for a week now.
I'm not saying I've given it up for good. I've felt the pangs of desire for a cigarette. I've wanted one after every meal I've had, and at the end of every work shift this week- and it's probably the simple fact that I didn't have any (and I don't believe in bumming cigarettes) that I haven't smoked.
I haven't been out drinking- and I'm sure once I find myself out at a bar, the urge will be too overwhelming and I will have one.
I'm sure there are plenty of people who give up smoking for good- like alcoholics who never touch a drop of booze again. Those people are super strong. I'm not that strong. I'm sure I will eventually have a cigarette again. Maybe even two. I may even go back to smoking on a semi regular basis... but for now I'm going with out.
I've heard radio commercials, or maybe its that I've seen television ads that give facts about what happens to your body after you've given up smoking, I couldn't remember what they said, so I looked it up... STUFF THAT SHOULD HAVE ALREADY HAPPENED-
Blood pressure drops to normal. -I guess that happened... who can tell?
Pulse rate drops to normal. -What's normal? Again- I guess that happened.
Body temperature of hands and feet increases to normal. -I run hot anyway... does that matter to me? no.
Carbon monoxide level in blood drops to normal. -Good for my blood!
Oxygen level in blood increases to normal. -No one start a fire in my body!
Chance of heart attack decreases. -eh... tell that to the donuts!
Nerve endings start regrowing.- Oh! You're no longer on my last nerve! I have more!
Ability to smell and taste is enhanced. -Mcdonalds is shitty!
STUFF THAT COULD BE HAPPENING NOW!
2 WEEKS TO 3 MONTHS
Circulation improves. -of my blog?
Walking becomes easier. -it's too damn hot to walk anywhere. Who cares?
Lung function increases up to 30%.-Opera here I come!
Stuff I have to look forward to- 1 TO 9 MONTHS
Coughing, sinus congestion, fatigue, and shortness of breath decrease. -okay, sure.
Cilia regrow in lungs, increasing ability to handle mucus, clean the lungs, and reduce infection.-gross?
Body's overall energy increases. -Okay...sure
Now, all that is neat I guess, but it's not really that exciting, unless you're shrunken up to microscopic size and living in my lungs... but now it gets interesting...
A horse arrives at your front door for a free hour of horseback riding.
You can stare into the sun for 7 minutes without any repercussion.
You can run a marathon whether you've been working out or not.
You look better in bow ties.
Lisa Johnson from sophomore year algebra will finally want to sleep with you, you can reject her or take her up on her offer depending on your availability.
You can hold your breath for 37 minutes.
Risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney and pancreas decreases, also your able to make the perfect crepe.
You learn a second or third language. Just instantaneously. Don't ask how...it just happens.
College finally pays off, and all your dreams come true!
So I guess if I keep this up, I do have a lot to look forward to.
I'm sure my ass doctor won't give a damn that I've taken up and quit smoking in the time since I've last seen him (it's been awhile)-
He'll probably harp on me about eating healthier, or exercising or some crap. Whatever.
You health nuts are never happy. Just like me.
I went to the movie theater the other day. I drank a giant ass cola. You know, the large one, the one that's 98 ounces of soda- you know, the kind that's roughly like drinking a six pack of Coke, and then some.
I always get this one... you know why? Free refills. I am the guy that thinks, "Sure I could store a gold fish in there for months on end- but yes, I could also drink two of those."
Yes, yes, I know it's roughly 124% the size of my stomach- the drink is actually bigger than my stomach- but I'm pretty sure I can drink two of those... I mean, it's like buy one get one free!
I never finish the drink. I do however have to pee like a guy that has just drank a bunch of soda for two hours straight while sitting in a 65 degree darkened room.
So, I went to the bathroom just after the movie the other day-
and I saw this guy, at a urinal, in flip flops (I assume he finished and zipped) he pivoted to turn away from the urinal and as he did his flip flop stayed on the floor as his foot came out of the flip flop... since he had already pivoted and shifted his weight, he stepped forward onto the bathroom floor and stepped onto the bathroom floor with his bare foot.
Gross. Very Brittany Spears. Gross.
The man looks down at his foot. He spins, puts his foot back in the flip flop, walks to the sinks, tousles his hair, and walks out the bathroom.
Gross. He didn't wash his hands.
Sure, I decided to pee all over the floor, but at least I washed my hands!
Random thoughts that I will somehow string together-
1) It took me way too long to type that last sentence as my fingers refused to hit the proper keys on the key board.
2) I keep getting distracted by Twitter and the need to play the game Bejewelled.
3) I hate working out. I haven't worked out in weeks, maybe even months now.
So-wait a minute, quick game of Bejewelled...
Sometimes I think I'm pretty good at Bejewelled- except then there are times when I'm really bad at it. I really thought it would be neat if a space alien came down to earth and picked me to help him stop an intergalactic war- and the only way we could stop this war was by putting large, free floating, similar looking jewels in groups of three or more... ala The Last Starfighter- but you know, without all the fighting.
Except then I have days like today when I just not very good at seeing the patterns, and I feel like I'm really just wasting my time even more (as if me playing Bejewelled isn't a waste of time- but playing Bejewelled poorly is a waste of time).
Of course what I should be doing is something productive. I'm not 100% sure what that means anymore.
See before, before that was easy. It's easy to define yourself by what you do. Before I was a kid. So before, I would occupy my free time by doing kid stuff. I'd go out, ride my bike. Go see a movie. Play daytime basketball. But now I'm older. Bicycles hurt my ass. It's way too hot to even think about outside. And the irony is you think that once you become an adult you have more money to do things, which is true, but it becomes far more difficult to spend willy nilly, because you can no longer depend on your parents to provide coverage for your poor financial planning (though you can hope- and ask politely).
Then you go from kid to student. So usually there is no free time. Free time is reading time, or homework time, or if you do get a break from that, then it's drinking and partying time. And there's always that available.
Well, then, then you're out of college, and you're a young adult starting a job, and you're chasing tail, and working by day, drinking by night. Meeting new people in the professional world, meeting new drinks in the blacking out world...
And then, BAM- you're finally a few years older. You're kind of established, you've been working for the same company for ten years, realizing your friends make way more than you, and sure that bothers you, but that seems to be counterbalanced by the fact that you have a steady significant other. And for the first time ever in your life (okay lets stop the word play- I'm not talking about you, I'm talking about me)
For the first time ever in my life I'm thinking, "This is the relationship that will not crumble after 3 months, or six months, or maybe even a year. And heck, if we last one year, why not two?" and so on and so forth... but I dare don't say that, because I don't want to scare the poor woman off... and then it turns out, we're beyond mind games, and she's kinda thinking the same thing...
And that's when you realize, aw hell, is this what it is like to be happy and content? The good content. Not the bad content, where it's 104 degrees outside, so you decided to go to a movie, just to get out of the heat, and all that's playing is Transformers, so you have to decide, melt? or watch Shia LaBeouf? Melt your face off 104 degree heat? or Shia LaBeouf? Hot as lava Texas summer heat? or Shia LaBeouf?
Seriously, old people, babies and pets die in this heat, or Shia LeBeouf? It's really a tough decision! But then you figure you can sleep through Transformers if the seats are comfortable enough, so you decided to go into the movie theater.
And basically you're paying 12 dollars to watch a really loud confusing poorly acted movie, and maybe doze off for 15 minutes... and you're content...
I'm not talking about that kind of content- I'm talking about the good kind of content.
You just had some good home cooking. You're sitting at home, you have no worries, you might get to have sex later on that night... that kind of content.
I used to write much more than I do now. I don't really know what happened but a few years ago, I curbed my writing productivity till I was practically at nill. I would take on the occasional writing gig, writing a children's play for a local children's theater (but I was usually asked to write original material- using characters that were copywritten- thus nothing I can claim)
But for the most part I haven't really been writing anything. And it's something that I've been needing to get back into for several reasons.
So a few weeks ago, instead of watching yet another TNT/USA (We know drama/Characters Welcome) show- I decided to hop on the old internet, and look at some of my old writings from my old blog, and my old book reviewing site... and I realized a great deal of my old writings dealt with the fact that I was incredibly unhappy in love- or not in love- or had an unrequited love.
(I keep asking my girlfriend to read my old stuff- and she never seems that interested- or so I thought, but what I'm realizing is that more than likely she's already read it- and probably isn't the greatest fan of how I go on and on about how this girl or that girl got away or broke my heart, or how I was sure she was the one... yeah, slight miscalculation on my part).
But this was quite the realization of me. I am a miserable writer! I'm not maudlin like some gooey high schooler... it's usually light and self deprecating, and sometimes poignant, and sometimes awful- but there was always some sort of heart ache linked to my writings. Just a bit of venom.
And now- I don't seem to have that venom coursing through my veins any longer. I have to invent a new way to write. And it's hard enough to get back on that horse. It's sort of like working out. I haven't done that in forever either. And every morning I wake up and think, "this is the day,the belly expands no more!" but then I usually end up at the grocery store buying muffins because muffins taste good when you're content with your life! You know what doesn't taste good? Salty sweat. That's gross.
And the first time you finally do make it back into the gym after a long hiatus- you think, "Seriously? Is this what running feels like? Holy crap? Why would anyone do this? No one is chasing me? My life isn't in danger... well, it is- but that's the impending heart attack!" and then you do a squat and you think, "Crap on a stick! This is why they use steroids! Cause weight lifting sucks!"
But no imagine you go back to working out at the gym, and all the machines are new machines... machines you've never seen before- machines you have no idea how to use. And they look menacing. There are cables and pulleys and arms jutting out in every direction. And you don't even know where to begin! And you hate it! Because you know it's what you need to do- you know you need to work out (or rather: I know I need to write in the non metaphor version of this story- but really I need to do both)- but you just don't know where to begin, and the whole thing seems too complex, too daunting! What's a guy to do???
Twitter. Hell yeah! 140 characters of total nonsense being tweeted by all my favorite people!
Hell yes John Hodgman just played FURY in a game of scrabble. You know what? It got him 20 points!
And you know what Albert Brooks? I did smirk at your joke: Clint Eastwood seen lunching with J.K. Rowling. Dirty Harry Potter?
Twitter is a time wasters best friend! Just like Bejewelled! And this is what I've been doing with my life. I have not been writing like I have promised myself. I'm definitely out of writing shape. That's why it's taken me nearly a week to write this blog.
I'm out of shape as well- but lets not talk about that here... at least not yet.
My Name is Jeff.
I live in Texas. I have never shot a gun, or an animal. I don't drive a truck. I do like beer.
I like comic books, movies, music. I work in a used bookstore.
I have a degree in fine arts. I have a very expensive degree that says I've been taught to paint, draw, and make intaglio prints, but I rarely do any of the three any more.
My best friend made me become and actor and playwright, and director. That's right, I said, "made me".
You're caught up.
This is my second go around at attempting a blog. I had a blog once, a long time ago... I guess as far as the internet goes, I still have that blog. But I haven't written in the damn thing in 3 years. I had some crazy success with that blog. I was flying high with that that blog... and then I had blogger break down. I started to think, "who am I? Who am I to think that someone would find my pedantic life interesting?" Then every little problem that I started to write about started to seem insignificant. I didn't have one of those blogs where I was trying to accomplish something. I wasn't working my way through a Bobby Flay cookbook. I wasn't reading Shakespeare's cannon in alphabetical order. I wasn't trying to loose weight, or gain weight. I wasn't trying to run a marathon, I was just going to work and living life. So I put away the blog, and just lived my life for awhile.
I gotta say, I was content to never write a blog again. I was totally happy nestled up in the suburbs, wrapped in a life of watching television, and reading people's Facebook updated, and Twitter postings. I was happy reading tiny little news blips on Gawker, and listening to music that Pandora decided I should hear.
Then something happened. Actually a few somethings happened, and triggered a stunning set of events that lead to me typing words out onto a computer screen once more
1)I got dumb.
See, this was a slow process. I was never a Rhodes scholar, but I wasn't a cast member of the Jersey Shore either (I don't have the abs for that anyway). I had a wide array of knowledge from which to pull interesting little tid bits to add to a group at a dinner party. I could hold my own in a conversation. I read. I listened to music. I watched artsy movies. I went to the theater. I was kind of cultured.
But then, I went through a rough patch where I seemed to link my self worth to my social life. And my social life took a couple of hits in a row- mostly in the form of women who attempted to perform open heart surgery on me by ripping my heart out of my chest cavity and stepping on it repeatedly. Then going off to sleep with other people.
That kind of thing can kick you square in the nuts.
So I decided that maybe I should just go into hiding. I stopped reading interesting things. I stopped attempting to write new short stories and plays. I just rolled out of bed. Worked my retail job- which I had been working for the last nine years (so I went on automatic while I was there... not really thinking, but somehow managing to get through the day).
Occasionally I would poke my head above ground and do something worth while- but that was a rare occurrence.
Mostly I went about my days working at work, reading comic books, watching Cops on television, checking Facebook, and sleeping. My brain started to atrophy. It wasn't really being used anyway.
Then I got a promotion at work.
It's odd how you can stumble through life, and get rewarded for it. That's a bit of a lie. I did/do work very hard for the company. It's not the most difficult job ever, but it does beat digging ditches. And I am good at it. And everyone I worked with was surprised that it took me nearly a decade to climb into upper management. But it wasn't anything I really wanted when I started with the company. When I started I wanted to be a painter. Then I wanted to be a writer. Then an actor. Then a director. Then I threw in the towel on all of that, and decided to be the manager of a used bookstore. (well assistant manager).
I thought, "Well this will give me a bit more responsibility- this well get me to get the old brain juices flowing again!"
It turns out the guy I work for is a bit of a micro manager. I'm actually doing less now, than I was before. At least I'm getting paid better to do less... right? But this step backwards in the responsibility department didn't stem the tide into dumbdumbsville.
2) I got lucky. Very lucky.
Somehow during all this stumbling and bumbling around I managed to get a girl- a new girl to go out with me. Suck on that ex girlfriends (except not the ones that I broke up with. For the rare few of you out there- I'm sorry. It's me not you... still).
Yeah- I got an attractive, smart funny girl to like me. That's awesome right? But oh crap! I have to talk to her? I mean, on occasions when we're fully clothed I have to talk to her? And be interesting and funny, and make a coherent thought? I should be able to talk good grammar. Right? How else am I going to impress this girl?
3) My friends went and did stuff.
Holy crap! I have to be charming! I have to be affable. I want this girl who has already professed to liking me, to keep liking me. I should like talk to her and stuff? I should sound interesting and some such and so forth right?
I turn to my friends for advice- but it turns out- they didn't run into the same ditch I ran to. I'm sure if you'll ask them they'll admit to having a whole different set of problems that drive them insane- we all do. But they didn't stop reading, or thinking the way I did. They were off getting jobs doing voice-overs, and writing and acting in one-man-shows. They were starting their own blogs, and their own businesses. Me? I was getting paid to babysit adult retail workers.
That was the epiphany I had. I was sitting in the back of a used bookstore, realizing that I had become dumb. That all my friends were still doing interesting things with their lives. That I had managed to convince a girl I was worth dating. And yet when I stacked myself up to who I once was, or who my friends were, I wasn't convinced of that myself.
It was time to turn this ship around.
So this is part of the new plan.
Part 34) Read more books. Like real books. Like- not just the current issue of Captain America, or what ever- but the biggest, baddest- Steven Jay Gould, David Foster Wallace books I have on my book self.
Part 17) Write more. This blog is part of that.
Part 45) Don't worry about the lame job. Do it, and get out. Let the lame job be the thing that pays the bills.
Part 2) Do more in life.
Hopefully something will come of all this. We'll see.