Day One

My first day as a non-smoker. Ugh. I haven’t had a smoke since midnight of last night. And I’m nic-fitting bad.


Over the past few weeks I’ve been having increasing difficulty with the simple act of breathing. This is wrong, wrong, wrong. After having some difficulty last night, I had had enough. As I finished off the last half of a borrowed cigarette, I knew that it may be my last for a good long while.

Most of today was ok, but there were times where I thought I could just easily step outside and breathe a little bit of smoke, or just pick up a cig and make my lungs feel like they’re working, or whatever. I keep expecting a cig to be nearby and lit, and when I realize and remind myself that I’ve quit, it’s such a shock.

But here’s the good part: I can breathe, and I can breathe better than yesterday. Over the course of the day, my lungs have been tweaking a bit, tightening and relaxing (as they’re accustomed to doing), but overall the lack of smoke in them has produced less phlegm, less to hack up. The hacks are now getting dry, though; I have a prescription of guaifenesen caplets (horse pills) to help release the crud.

Overall, I’ve been on the up-and-up, kinda chipper today, but I still feel tired, drained, tense about the craving. Ugh. Hoping that drinking a lot of extra water and extra Coca-Cola will help keep me going. I’ve never had a nicotine-withdrawal headache before; stupifying.

But this is my goal, folks; I want to quit, I need to quit smoking. I finally understand that I can’t moderate myself when it comes to “the hunger”; if I “taper off” I’m still smoking a pack a day. The past month has shown me that much. Smoking may be my death if I don’t quit now. My cardio-pulmonary systems surely depend on going without it. I just hope my psycho-nervous system can cope.

Wish me luck, folks.

Three Year Anniversary

Wow. As of Monday, July 28, 2003 I will have been here in Austin for three years! Wow. That far exceeds my time in North Carolina twice-over. I am impressed.

And what a looooong, strange trip it’s beeeen.

I knew my anniversary was coming up, so tonight I did some light research in my journal and found the date that I moved down here from Texarkana back in 2000. Man, those were glorious days.

After staying up late on that thursday before I moved, I packed everything up, dividing it all up into carloads, prioritizing everything into “I need this to survive”, “I need that when I get a place” and “That’s the rest of my stuff” piles. I loaded the survival pile into my car, loaded it to the gills; I believe I added roughly 500 pounds to the car’s weight with essentials. I then neatly placed everything else into stashes around my bedroom.

After a long and necessary shower, I got dressed, grabbed by backpack, my map, my move money, gave much love to all the cats and the dog, gave a sad wave to my mother who was sleeping before her workday, wiped away some tears, and headed out on the road. It was 2am.

I arrived in Austin around 8am, just in time for Friday Morning Rush Hour. It was hellish and, for some parts, slow, but I knew that if I could make it deep enough into town I could cut over westward from I-35 and reach Lamar. Once I was on Lamar, I knew where I was. Found my way to my friends’ house to find they had already gone to work, so I freshened up a little bit, found a city map, and went to where one of my friends worked. He took a break and we went for coffee.

It was there that I got my first taste of Austin – walking from the ACC campus down 14th street, past a greenbelt, past a feminist bookstore, across Lamar, and on to Einsteins Bagels where, zonked from the driving, the lack of sleep, and the brisk walking in the late-July heat and dazing light, I proceeded to clumsily spill and splash my coffee on the sugar bar. Something hot to drink after all that was a bad idea, but I really needed the caffeine. We grabbed a spot to lean, chatted for a few minutes, and I grabbed my first Austin Chronicle. We headed back uphill to campus.

I had a first-meeting to make at 11; that much was set in stone. I had to go to Hall-Kinion and meet my contract agent face-to-face. Up to that point, we had each been little more than voices on the telephone. Still zonked, I got lost while driving through Zilker Park, but after a pull-off and a map check, I got my bearings and turned at the right intersection, found the right business building, found the parking garage, then found the office.

The receptionist greeted me and messaged to my agent that I was there, and he welcomed me in, offered me a drink, and we exchanged cordials and chit-chat over some minor paperwork and non-disclosure agreements (ah, the perils of being a contract programmer). He asked if I’d like some lunch, perhaps the steak place next door, and I accepted. Wine-and-dine, man. Sleepy from being awake since thursday am, and made sleepier by a full belly, I was ready to go and make my way back towards campus to get my friend and go back to the house for some shuteye. My agent took the check and without looking at it he slipped the company credit card in the book, handed it to the waiter, and when the receipt was returned, we were off like a tube-top and back to the office. Heh. Four hours into Austin and I was already eating on a company expense account!

That weekend proved to be a major challenge and an immense experience as my two hosts graciously gave me tips, driving directions, local history, and doing everything in their power to introduce me to the true vibe of Austin. They helped me find the office on Bee Caves Road where I would be reporting for duty on Monday, my first day at my first real tech job. I couldn’t have asked for a better crash course on Austin (thank you guys); I got an insight that only hinted at what the “townies” have known for years, and it was a great start. Three weeks and two paychecks ($$!!) later, I made their futon available once again and found my own place to live.

I was an Austinite.

Since then, for the most part my time here has been a steady derth of straight-as-she-goes lifestyle mixed up with bouts of dizzying but welcomed whirlwinds of change. And I’m still changing, still finding new places, still seeing new things, still meeting new people. I have to say that living here in Austin has been rather rewarding, even during the hard times, and I wouldn’t have traded it for any other place.

Thanks, Austin, for taking me in. Three years is one hell of a ride. Here’s to many, many more.

Y’know, I still have that map. :smiles:

Bitter Sweet Salty Sour Sweet

I really did overdo myself sunday. After sleeping for something like 12 hours I woke up at 3:30am sunday morning. After milling around the room for a few hours, I gathered the gumption to go do some laundry. Sitting in my car in front of the laundromat was a unique experience; while the laundry was going, I sat out there and just soaked in the quiet of a sunday-morning dawn. I don’t know what it is about morning hues, but it always puts me at peace. I hungered for a good camera and decent photographic skills.

After laundry, I returned to the apartment just in time to meet up with my roomate when he got home from work. We had set aside the day to go to McGregor Park, also known as Hippy Hollow, the only clothing-optional state park in Texas. We headed out and got there around 9am, and it was quiet, calm, and peaceful. After settling down in a nice shady spot with a good view, we stripped down to our naturals and just chilled out. I was quite surprised with how not-modest I was about the whole nudity thing. It just felt O.K.

I crawled down the rocks to the water and took a swim for about fifteen minutes – my first swim in a year. Since I usually take showers only, being surrounded by water has become a new sensation, but after a few short minutes I got accustomed to it. For the lack of any kind of flotational device (note to self: get a floatie before next time), I got tired and crawled out to go back up to our stoop under the shade tree to air dry. Heart racing and dripping wet, I felt so good. I finally understood the joy of skinny dipping.

We left around 1:30pm, tired, hot, and a little baked from the sun. I managed to get a little too red from relying on nothing more than the solar protection equivalent of SPF-shadetree. The hot car didn’t make it that much easier, but we weathered it like troopers and headed back into town.

On the way in, my car suffered a bad mechanical failure: during a hard-braking event to stop at a traffic signal between Hwy 360 and MoPac I heard a pop and a crunch coming from my left-front wheel. After driving the way to MoPac, then to Burnet, then to Lamar, the crunch and the grinding got worse – I was hearing grinding while driving, and the braking action was tough and chunky. This was not good. Being sunday afternoon, my chances for a mechanic’s help were slim to none, but I had to try anyway; we headed down Lamar towards two brake shops. The first was closed, but 3 miles down, with my hand on the emergency-brake handle just in case, we found the other shop was opened until 3pm; it was 2 o’clock. A true blessing.

We got the car into the shop, they pulled the wheels off, and after inspection of all the brakes, the mechanics confirmed what I had suspected: the outside brake pad on my front-left wheel had gotten so thin that during that hard-brake the pad had snapped in half and was caught in the clamp so the the clamp itself was grinding into my rotor. The situation wasn’t pretty. So, after a hundred bucks and two hours of time I was driving away with brand new brake pads and newly-machined rotors on my front wheels.

:sighs: At least my brakes work better. :)

So, after dealing with all that, we head over to a local fried-fish chain restaurant (grease in a sunburned body = bad idea), and we finally get home, take turns with the shower, and I discovered just how red I turned from the beach. Youch! Aloe vera felt so good. Roomate went to take a nap, I tool around online, and head out to grab a friend to go hang out at Mojo’s. By that time, the heat, sunburn, and heavy heavy grease did their number on my stomach, and I got nauseous again.

My friend and I opt for walking around for a little bit to get my stomach settled, thereby overstretching myself again, and we head home to freshen up and rendezvous back to my apartment for a planned dinner and movies. He and his girlfriend show up, my roomate prepares dinner, and by the time dinner’s ready, I’m about to heave-hork again. I had to excuse myself and go to bed.

If you’ve noticed, nausea is becoming a recurring theme. I beseech the gods of medical technology to make my stomach whole again. This morning I still wasn’t A-OK, but I went to work like a trooper and stuck it out. Finally, around mid-afternoon, I was ok to eat something, so I heated the charity-plate my roomate had made for me and picked at it for an hour. Damn was it good. I only wish I could’ve eaten it last night. Huh.

Saturday was short, sunday morning was sweet, and the rest of the day was sweaty, sour, and more sour.

I woke up this morning with a really bizarre dream involving a girl I know; it’s quite apparent to me how I feel for her, because in the dream we were making love and I felt the heat, the pressure, the holding, the whole thing. Love-dreams always unsettle me, but it’s a sweetness that I can carry with me throughout the day. Little things like that make my life better.

And it all starts with holding someone’s hand.

Keepin’ up with the Bones

Just a quick update:

I’m working on making the html of Phaysis a little more robust. It’s still a little screwy in IE (all versions), but looks fine in Mozilla. Netscape 4+ is just right-out. :sighs: Really goes against my drive for cross-browser, cross-platform design techniques. It’s a learning process, at least. :shakes fist at the CSS gods:

I haven’t written anything substantial on the website engine in roughly 2 weeks. Been too busy doing other stuff, and sitting down to code this particular chunk of program code is taxing at best. I wonder if I’m going about it all the right way, or if this chunk is really necessary. :shrugs: I’ll make some decisions about it soon.

I visited Texarkana last weekend. It was good to spend some decent time with my family saturday night. None of my sister’s kids were sick, her husband was available, and mom was doing well, so we all had dinner together at mother’s house. I decided to forego visiting some people, namely Moderne Primitives, in order to hang with the fam for a few hours longer, and it was worth it. It almost made the 13 hours (!!) on the road last weekend worth it (where the hell is high-speed rail when we need it?).

I smelled natural gas around my apartment complex’s courtyard last night, and it kinda freaked me out. When I came home from work this afternoon, I still kinda smelled it, so I called the landlord. His assistant told me that the landlord was over here at this complex this morning and noticed the smell. He investigated and found an open valve in the vacant apartment directly underneath mine! Holy shit! It’s since been closed, but I’ll still keep my paranoid nose in the air for it. That shit scares the bejeezus out of me; everything I own, car excluded, is in this apartment. Ugh

My 11-day absence from Mojo’s has been kind of refreshing. I’m spending more time at home lately, which is kind-of a good thing. I’m also out doing other things that I skipped-out on when I spent all my time in one place every night. I’ve found it surprising how much larger this town has gotten now that I’m not a regular anywhere. Breaking habits is the first step to listening for Serendipity’s call. She knows my number.

And you folks who “miss me” know my number too.

All your Bass are Belong to Neighbor

Drove around tonite for a bit, just long enough to get a little wound up. Went home and made a valiant effort to sit down, relax, meditate, breathe and try to think of nothing.

It was successful until about 10 o’clock, when my neighbor decided to crank up his bass car and visit with buddies in the parking lot beneath my window.

If I only had balls.

It looks as though I’ll be going to Texarkana by myself this weekend. :sighs: It’s par for the course, really. It’s great to make plans, but shit always happens. I’ll get to visit with my mother, my family, and some of my friends, but if left up to my own devices instead of being driven to show someone around town, this same damned scenario will play out:

I’ll wake up late saturday, shuffle around the house, watch some TV, eat something, lazily take a shower, and by the time I leave the house to visit with people it’s 8pm. I zip by Moderne Primitives just in time to say “hi” before they close, and then I go to my friends’ clump of houses to hang out until too late, usually doing nothing but talking or watching TV. If it’s 1am or something, I might go to Denny’s. Elsewise, I drive back out to the country to slump back onto my mother’s couch and nod off.

I usually get woken up Sunday by visitors or something, laze around, chat with mom, fully intending to see more friends or maybe extended family, then I have to shower, pack up my things, and leave town around 7pm, which becomes 8pm, which becomes 8:45pm, etc., etc. By the time I reach Austin, it’s around 3am, I’m tired as hell, and the distance from Georgetown to my exit in Austin grows longer and longer. After pulling in, I grab my stuff, haul it back upstairs to my apartment (usually in 2 or 3 loads), check my spam, say “hi” to a few folks online, and then pass out to wake up 4 hours later for work.

Believe me, I know this routine.