Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Hide Your Children, and Bats

Yesterday, I did some of the best writing in the whole wide world. The best ever ever ever. Me and David Sedaris, we were communing. The three intertwined stories ala "This American Life" turned out so funny and enlightening that poor David was beginning to worry about his place in the literary world. I was thinking to myself, "I don't really have a wardrobe suitable for accepting awards." You'll just have to trust me on this, because a) that super-stretch would be really nice for me, and b) no one will ever see the blog that resulted. After devoting seven hours to thinking the whole thing through on a drive home from the beach Monday, and then about three hours writing it last night, I quickly went to get permission to publish from my daughter, who was the subject of one of the hopelessly intertwined stories. It was just a formality  --  the part from her young childhood was so adorable (not embarrassing at all), I just knew she wouldn't say "no." She did.

For today's blog purposes, this means "update" instead of our originally planned programming.

I am on my fifth day of quitting smoking, and not one millisecond closer to seeing any light at the end of this tunnel, unless the light is a headlamp in the psyche ward. This is not my usual hyperbole here. I am convinced people like me who haven't quit smoking yet experience withdrawals differently from everyone else. Whether this is really true does not matter one iota to me right now. If my boss were a trace less kind than she is, or if I didn't have the good luck of working in my own office where if I bite my lip hard enough no one will hear me, I would not have made it through this day without a cigarette.

Imagine being covered head-to-toe in the worst possible poison ivy or jock itch (I'm guessing on the latter of these), with no hope that it will go away for weeks, no position you can get into to relieve the insane itching and pain, no pharmaceutical that works to help. That's how bad the rage that welled up inside of me was. Imagine there is something you can buy over the counter that makes the agony go away in an instant, but everybody says it causes lung cancer or some other similar fate that is supposed to be worse than the one you are in, at some point in the unknown future. You could be creamed by a truck before it happens.

First I wanted to break things indiscriminately, hit and kick solid matter until my bones broke  --  that would certainly get my mind off the current unbearable pain. I was thinking, when I could think, what an idiot I had been, not to foresee this and lay in a heavy-duty baseball bat for the occasion. Again  --  not hyperbole; every word of this is precise and true. I stomped around like a mad woman, looking for what could reasonably be broken, when my eyes lit upon several pieces of leaded crystal in my office that, quite literally, have the company name etched on them. I didn't begin throwing them as hard as I could onto the grass outside  --  but it was a very, very close call. Instead, I dropped onto the floor and cried into my arms, folded on the seat of my chair, for one entire hour. And not a nice, cathartic cry, but a crazed snotty gushing of curse words, loathing, and despair. Think Jim Morrison's "brain squirming like a toad." When it was over, it wasn't really over  --  I was just too exhausted for anything but pushing my storm cloud around from one place to another. The look on my face was something like a woman's when she is practicing Lamaze, as she is trying to keep her mind on her focal point at the height of childbirth.

Meanwhile, last night and tonight, my daughter  --  innocent, unknowing babe  --  keeps coming to me, to read aloud various essays she has written for school.