Monday, May 19, 2003

Quickly:

I’ve had three hours of sleep, taken two caffeine pills, crammed everything dealing with consciousness into my brain for last final exam, which is in less than half an hour, and all the caffeine—in both liquid and pill form—have given me a most horrible case of diarrhea…

I feel as if I am losing my mind—confessing to having the runs being only the first of many symptoms to come.


Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Update

It's been three days since my last cigarette, and I have the uncontrollable urge to shoot myself and have someone hurl my lifeless body into the bay, having it discovered, three months later, by a six year old who, after tiring from his father's recommendations as to what constituted proper fishing, in his boredom decided to prod the murky water with a long, inquisitive stick.

And to add to the insult, I'm stuck writing a twenty page paper concerning the inequalities inherent in the US educational system, which naturally depresses me and makes me want to smoke myself into a cancerous oblivion, but I think I'll have carrot sticks instead.

I hear they're loaded with fiber.



Sunday, May 11, 2003

Gone with the Smoke

This afternoon as I left my apartment and walked toward the Deli for cigarettes, I decided to quit smoking.

It wasn't so much the risk of developing lung cancer or the fact that each cigarette, as my grade school teacher once informed me, took away five minutes from my life that made me stop a block before the Indian who sold me my cigarettes every day. Instead, as I made my way down my well-trodden path, it became increasingly clear to me that the only people who were smoking were homeless, disabled in some way, or ridiculously unattractive.

At one point, I noticed a man with a missing leg leaning up against an ATM machine, struggling to maintain his balance while trying to light up his menthol Salem.

It became very clear to me that there was nothing particularly romantic about smoking a cigarette. Sure there will always be images of velvet-wearing women with heavy eyelashes dancing through a bastion of smoke, but when it comes to the real world and my life down on Shattuck Ave., the homeless woman with the hairy upper lip and a voice that has Joe Camel got the best of me written all over it leaves a much more lasting impression.

Sure I've attempted quitting before, but these attempts, like almost anything else I attempt, have always been accompanied with melodrama of some sort, as if tossing a full pack out my car window with one determined thrust would somehow erase the three years of my nicotine addiction.

Instead, walking halfway to the Indian and halfway back to the apartment empty-handed seems to tell me that I just might do it this time. Of course I will always miss my cigarettes, the way they could always console me, their white bodies beaming out of their box like tall daisies, each one a personal savior, each a semi-audible voice saying Why do you need him when you can have me?

Sadly, my relationship with my cigarettes has been the only relationship that's ever brought me happiness, love, and mutual understanding.

Looking at it this way, giving up smoking is like giving up the love of my life.

And as a side note, it has been my experience that the older I get, the more painfully apparent it becomes that God really hates me.


Wednesday, May 07, 2003

The Third Sense

It’s strange how certain smells can grab a hold of you and make you close your eyes, leaving your nose to search the air, leaving it to search for that memory to go along with it.

Memory has always been a mystery to me, the way memories are somehow compacted into tiny readable units and stored in the brain as if they were index cards you store away long after an exam. What happens to that night on the beach, that late night conversation on the phone, the day you decided to move away, when it’s through, when it’s been recorded and put away and left there undisturbed for years?

I was burning candles today, cucumber-cantaloupe scented candles to be exact, and somewhere between vacuuming and cleaning the windows, the smell hit me as unexpectedly and as suddenly as a herpes outbreak.

During my second year of college I worked at a candle store, and the smell made me close my eyes and revisit that time, as if cucumber-cantaloupe was somehow representative of a year of my life. It was the year I had a beautiful tan and highlights in my hair. The year I drove to the beach almost every weekend, the windows of my beat up Honda all the way down as I drove down the PCH. It was the year I had my first boyfriend—that year with all the great sex, self-discovery, and, in the end, disappointment.

I felt kind of silly standing there with the Windex bottle in my hand and reminiscing, somewhat somberly, of my past.

I thought about blowing out my candles, arguing that I’d never get any cleaning accomplished this way, but I figured that it wasn’t the cucumber or the cantaloupe that got the best of me; it’s the fact that I’ve yet to store that year and put it away. It’s still lingering somewhere on the top shelf in my mind, and not even all the scentless candles can make it go away.

It’s funny to think of it, how something as technical sounding as olfaction can be responsible for something so personal, fragile, and all too human.