Category Archives: Mixed Up

Happy Endings… and Beginnings

Happy Endings[1]

Tell us about something you’ve tried to quit. Did you go cold turkey, or for gradual change? Did it stick?

Caveat 1: It took so goddamn long to format this post, because apparently, WP likes the blockquote+alignright code so much it devours it.

Caveat 2: This writing prompt is from The Daily Post. I realize it was from Jan 4, which I hope you’ll forgive, random reader. I haven’t done this in a while.

One of the longest relationships I’ve ever had ended a few weeks ago.

An unequivocal truth: Breakups suck. Even that breakup with the boyfriend you didn’t really like all that much sucked in some way or form.

Like that job you hated with every fiber of your being. You will have emerged with a feeling akin to somebody drawing a “Get out of jail free” card, but in some ways, it will suck. You have left people – your people – behind. You’ve left something that seemed so good at the beginning, so promising, up until the point the fangs and the teeth, and the dick moves showed up.

And the more horrifying bit of every breakup is, it’ll stay with you long after you’ve accepted everything, long after the dust has settled and you’ve come miles away from the scorched earth you’ve left in your wake.

One of the longest relationships I’ve ever had ended a few weeks ago. I broke up with cigarettes.

I remember that first cigarette more than I remember my first kiss.

One chilly night in the middle of April[2], I stood with my fellow trainees outside an office in Eastwood. I had just finished my practical exam, the exam that would pretty much decide whether or not I get the blessing to work on the production floor, or get axed.

I was convinced that I was going to get the latter.[3] I watched my friends puff away as if cigarettes lent them a sort of Calm-Cool-As-A-Cucumber superpower that I sorely needed.

First puff, I sputtered. Of course I did.

Months later, I picked it up again. I associated it with breaks, with something I do while I am with friends and at ease. Fast forward to 10 or 11 years later, I am closing the 2-pack-a-day mark. Somewhere along the way, I’ve associated it with something I love: writing. I kept fooling myself that if I stopped smoking, maybe the writing will go away too. Maybe, just maybe, it did lend me a sort of superpower.

I smoked even during a bout of what I’ve come to call as the Acute URI Trifecta.[4]

One day last year, I woke up and knew I didn’t want it anymore. Have you had that feeling? A friend and colleague recently told me she woke up and realized she didn’t want to go to work. She quit the next day.

When I really think about it, it wasn’t an abrupt sort of realization. It was a long, drawn out epiphany, mired in healthcare plans and insurance policies. It was a decision brought forth by the idea of changing for the better, of ridding myself of things that don’t really do me any good. And let’s be honest, of not romanticizing things that are bad for me.

So those things in mind, I knew cold turkey simply  wouldn’t work for me, and I started asking around for alternatives. Vaping seemed like a very good idea. I won’t smell like a chimney, I won’t be slowly killing my dog (along with favorite people) with secondhand smoke, and I won’t have burn marks on my keyboard.

I know vaping isn’t quitting – quitting – but I do know that I haven’t touched a cigarette in six weeks. So yeah, that’s good enough for me.

And if you’re curious, the writing didn’t go away. Or it hasn’t gone away with the cigarettes. So big win all things considered, yeah?

Notes:
1. Writing Prompt from The Daily Post
2. It was the middle of April, so no, not chilly at all, but I was shivering. Nerves tend to do that to me.
3. Because I couldn’t pronounce Kyrie, goddammit.
4. Upper Respiratory Track Infection, in my case, was a cough deciding to hang out with Laryngitis, Pharyngitis, and Bronchitis.

On taking shots

I like taking photos, in the hobbyist sort of way, and I find that sometimes I enjoy it more than writing. That’s saying something, considering I write professionally.

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Gloomy day today

It happens especially when words are slow – or are deposited in that special black hole where they go sometimes.

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Gloomy and damp

1984

1984 [1]

You’re locked in a room with your greatest fear. Describe what’s in the room.

She hugged her knees closer. Stop rocking, she commanded. Focus, goddammit. Focus. Sweat beaded up on her upper lip and she ran the back of her clammy hand across it.

Clop. Clop. Clop.

She remembers running full tilt. Running until her lungs burned and her legs screamed. Running until she found her unit – swearing as she fumbled with her keys – and threw herself into the dark expanse behind it.

Clop. Clop. Clop.

The room seemed safe enough. It is home, though she honestly doubted that feeble door. Anything looked feeble compared to something that big. What was it? She had taken one look at the scales and the giant talons and she fled. She had heard terrified screaming behind her, but she neither looked back nor heard any since.

Clop. Clop. Clop.

She wasn’t sure how long it had been, but the dark had settled now. It might have been a few minutes, or a couple of hours. Her hands were numb when she locked it, and it took a few tries to get the chain on the track. She wished that the door had a bolt – or that she had a 2 by 4 with which to bar the door.

Clop. Clop. Clop.

Fucker, she thought. It’s still there. She had backed into the room, facing the door, afraid that it’d burst open at any moment. She jumped when something cold and hard touched her elbow. She let out the breath she’d been holding when she saw it was only the wall. She leaned into it and slid down to the floor. She half crawled and half dragged herself into a corner, convinced that at least nothing can get her from behind. The cold bit her back through her shirt.

Clop. Clop. Clop.

She let her eyes adjust to the dark. There was the L-shaped couch, the one on which she had fallen unconscious many instances before, beside the lamp, whose one arm was now bent in a weird angle pointing toward the floor like a wilted daffodil. Her low bookshelf sat opposite her, stuffed full with paperbacks. She caught the white spine of Everything’s Eventual. Oh God please help us was in a blood red scrawl, the embossed font gleaming in the moonlight that trickled though the window. She wedged herself tighter into the corner.

Clop. Clop. Clop.

That infernal sound, she thought. When she first moved in, she had hated how sound carried in the condo complex – across the hall and into her unit – and hated it more now because she couldn’t tell if it’s coming for her or moving away.

Clop. Clop. Clop.

Her legs started to cramp, as adrenaline ebbed slowly away. She was too terrified to move. She had reverted into her 8-year old self, convinced that if she curled herself small enough and closed her eyes, she’d turn invisible.

Clop. Clop. Clop.

She didn’t pray. People used that like a lifeline, a Phone-A-Friend. Her mind wandered. Will it be quick? Am I the aperitif or the main course? Will it hurt? If it grabs me by the hair and drags me across the room, I’m sure that would hurt. 

THUD.

She started so badly she almost sang in fear. Her hands leapt to her mouth. She felt sick.

CLOP. CLOP. CLOP.

Despite the fresh dose of adrenaline, she found herself quite rooted to the spot.

CRASH.

For a moment, there was sweet, blessed silence after the echoes died in the hallway. Her ragged breathing made her lightheaded. Her heart thundered in her chest, as if sensing that this may be the end.

CLOP.

It dawned on her–

CLOP.

a truth

CLOP.

she found hard to swallow

CLOP.

her mouth was suddenly bone dry

CLOP.

that she may never

CLOP.

ever

CLOP.

leave this room.

Notes:
1. Writing prompt from The Daily Post. This is actually the prompt for January 9, but I found it hard to pass up. It’s been months since I last tried to write fiction.
2. Disembodied foot note, because I didn’t want a [2] on a story, or at least, not on this one. The book cover in question can be found here (via Year of One Hundred Stories).