Monday, June 30, 2008

Last day

Here it is, my last day as a smoker. I feel it's important to go public with it because one needs every motivation possible. The shame of public failure is a big motivator. There are other motivating factors too, a few of which I wrote down and posted on the wall. Because you love your lungs. Because you don't want cigarettes to control your life - you are in control. Because it costs a lot. This is going to be difficult because spouse is not joining me in quitting. We have quit together before but spouse usually doesn't get too far (the most was 30 days) and I even remember contemplating breaking up with him because he was smoking and I wasn't. That makes me laugh now. "So why did you guys break up?" "Well, I quit smoking and he had the audacity to continue smoking." This time is different. But it will be hard with cigarettes in the house. (Although, starting today, smoking is only to be done outside.)

One nice thing is that the law changed here while we were on vacation, and now cigarettes cannot be displayed in stores. They must all be hidden now. And they are. So I won't be seeing them except in the hands of those smoking.

I went through this before on the blog. March of 2006. I lasted until my birthday at the end of July when I gave myself permission to have a birthday cigarette. As Christie said then and again yesterday, if you have even one cigarette, that's it - you're a smoker. Or as I like to put it, once you give yourself permission, quantity is not an issue.

Anyway, I only have one goal on my list this year. This one. Usually I have 10. But this has to be the year for this. I don't know why, but "I quit when I was 42" sounds exactly right to me. Feels right. Is right.

If posting is spotty this week, it's only because smoking and blogging have become too intertwined. Fear not, I'll be back.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Filling the days

I didn't post yesterday and I probably should skip today as well, I would but it's just that I treat this thing more like an obligation. This is the trick to doing things you don't usually feel like doing. In addition to the blog it's how I trick myself into working out regularly. The weather has been atrocious around here. Cool, cloudy and damp. I feel like I'm in Vancouver or something. (A place I've never been but will see before the year is out.)

I would moan about how it's hard filling the days when you can't spend any money. However, Mom scolded me the other day for whining about how I got the post vacation blues and nothing planned for the summer. I'm DOING all the things that cost no money. I walked over 20 hours this week. (Which I'm really enjoying by the way. I've seen so many parts of town that I've never seen but from a bus window.) I'm reading, I'm knitting, I'm playing the piano. I'm eating peanut butter sandwiches for lunch. I'm playing scrabble and doing sudoku every day. Oh and doing the full body meditation too. Actually, yesterday I did it twice it felt so good.

Wow, look at all the nice peaceful things I'm doing. Mom's right, there's no excuse for a poor attitude. (Though I must say it'd be a hair easier if I had her kind of um, resources.)

Apprehension is never far as my quit date approaches. It seems my brother and cousin quit smoking lately, I think I'm the last one left in the family, sigh. Now if I can make quitting an obligation in my mind.....Only two days left.

Friday, June 27, 2008


* Sara is just fine. Apparently her most hyper day was the day we came home. Was all excited the morning that we went over to get her. She's reverted back to being a piece of furniture now.

* American dialogue overheard in line at the Eiffel Tower. "Dude, I love impressionist art. We gotta get up early for the Musee Dorsay so we can't get hammered tonight." "Dude, why not?" "Dude, I can't look at art with a hangover."

* I started the no-smoking box. It's got gum and candy of course, plus puzzles and bubbles and gyroscope. Quitting is still going to suck. I still have to put little love notes to myself in there.

* I walked clear across town to get home yesterday after my voicover gig. Three hours. I ran into the Brazil festival and the start of the Jazz festival. The town is alive.

* Walking is my new thing. Today I'm walking to get my haircut. Then maybe all the way to Bilboquet. Walking gives you time to study what you miss on bike or in car.

* Our new table was delivered. Now we have to shop for chairs. We haven't any money for that right now, so we'll be using the old Ikea chairs for a while.

* Apparently, we've got mice downstairs. "They've kept me up for four nights," said the non-deadbeat tenant. I put out poison like I did last year. They ate it so I have to go buy more. I put the poison in a place unaccessible to other animals (like Sara).

* I know what you're thinking. This is the worst snippets ever. That'll make it easy to outdo them next time.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Dag nabbit, I didn't think about how I had to be across town early this morning for the rest of the voiceover gig. They stroked my ego plenty yesterday, "ooh I love his voice, where did you find him?" But I think this is a trick to put me at ease. (It works.) So now I've got nothing to talk about but since I just noticed it's Thursday, that means an HNT might work. (I still don't know what day it is anymore, I just know I have this gig this morning and a class on July 7th.)

Here's a picture much like one I've taken of all my friends. (Be warned those who haven't met me.) You fling the door open while someone's on the pot and take a picture of them. The best is when the door is far away from the toilet. Well, Serge got his revenge and it wouldn't be so blurry except that he was quivering with excitement over having caught me. I'd like to draw your attention to the dispenser on the wall. This was our hotel room in Paris. The toilet paper came in the form of napkins. I promptly dubbed them butt-napkins. They weren't as bad as those one-panel waxies, these were at least double paned. Kind of like half a Kleenex.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Good news. Jimmy paid most of his rent. Only $40 short and still doesn't know if he's moving out July 1st. It's still good news. Won a toonie (two Canadian dollars) on a scratcher too. Serge thought he had lost but he hadn't. He had nothing to say then but "pfft". He looked cute though before we sat out on the balcony in front and watched the parade.

See. And of course he loathes this picture. The parade kind of really sucked, pretty much a repeat of last year and even smaller. It was rather bizarre when the end of the parade was followed by Hare Krishnas and separatists chanting different kinds of things. I announced half way through that we would have corn dogs in honor of the holiday - St Jean Baptiste, a kind of 4th of July for Quebecers - these were "pogo" brand.

This reminds me of something I said on the boat to some newlyweds we were enjoying the company of. I complained that a trio at McDonald's was $11.00 in Paris. (I didn't order one, I just peaked in to see how much. We did not go all the way to Europe to eat American food. Okay, except on the boat.) They looked at me blankly and said, "What's a trio?" And it was like they had asked me what air was, a trio, what else could it be but a burger, fries and drink? I said, "You know, where you get the sandwich, fries and coke." And they came to life then, "Oh, a COMBO. You mean a COMBO." A combo? That can't be right, I thought. Trio is right, it was trio in California, wasn't it? It can't be combo. And yet it is. I guess the American is slowly sloughing off of me.

I think sloughing is wrong, but I left it there anyway. Maybe it's right, right? And just how do you pronounce it, exactly?

I bought three souvenirs on the fabulous vacation of life. A t-shirt from Croatia. It's black and says "Croatia" on the front. In Italy, I bought a blue Italia shirt, which I think resembles the soccer team garb, but I didn't know this when I bought it. I just liked the blue and how it said Italia on it. And finally, I bought a pair of underwear. There is a print of something famous on them.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

All funked up

I have no excuse for being in a funk, but there it is anyway. Like finding a hair in the middle of your sandwich - once you see it, it's too late - appetite lost. I think for the past year my view toward the future ended with the fabulous vacation of life, and here I am wondering why I didn't have a plan for these ensuing months. There was a vague sense that I'd do some work, and spend a week in California in August. The work thing hasn't really panned out, though I did get a voiceover gig for tomorrow and Thursday. It'd be a happy thing but I can't help seeing that it should just about cover what deadbeat tenant is short this month. Em told me to write down this angst over "nothing to do" so that when I'm in the frenzy of teaching I could look at it and, what? Laugh at my ridiculous self? I'm reminded of the girl handing out gum samples at the sidewalk sale as she told me, "The gum that lasts a ridiculously long time." That's how this summer appears to me, a ridiculously long time.

I made this list yesterday:
ride bike
make no-smoking box (treats puzzles)
make dentist appt

I only did the first three.

Today there is a parade in front of our house, and people may come and watch with us. We will likely look at all the vacation pictures again. I'll pretend to be happy. In my experience, if you pretend long enough, it becomes real.

Monday, June 23, 2008

This n that

Our little tenant downstairs is holding out on his rent. He also may or may not be moving out next week. I knew he was going to pull something, and my intuitive sense was right. He actually said last Wednesday that he was going to get the rest of the rent "now", and here it is Monday with nary an update. Today we've got the lovely chore of calling his dad, since he signed for him too (we insisted on a cosigner as he didn't want us checking his credit - a mistake we shant repeat) and see if we can get payment. I figure in his 20 year old brain he's got it figured that he'll move out while we're not looking and stick us with the $350 he owes. I'm trying to remain detached emotionally, and so far succeeding, but it's hard work not getting feverishly swirled into it.

In related news, I found dozens of free meditations on itunes yesterday.

Spouse bought me a new camera on the cruise. It was a guilt present, since he had spilled beer all over my camera in Paris. (I got mad, and then he got mad that I got mad since it was an accident.) It still worked but the lens cover was all sticky and needed help opening and closing. It's a good thing though, that old camera always had spots on the photos I took that included the sky.

Finally, here's a collage of the vacation like I always put together. There's a pic of a machine in our cabin in there. It was there one evening when we returned for the night. It made weird humming sounds and the inscription read something about deodorizing. I dubbed it "the evil smokers machine".

Sunday, June 22, 2008

All over the place

I'm having trouble accepting the fact that the fabulous vacation of life is over. It's funny, with each passing day that I'm back, the experience grows more and more wonderful in memory. But we can't live in memories, and my first instinct is always to plan another vacation. I distinctly remember us saying that we should forgo a cruise next time in favor of a resort and stay put kind of vacation. Now, I find myself checking different cruises and pricing. We should probably try a gay cruise. They actually had a "friends of dorothy" meet and greet on board the ship, where we turned out along with a nice young man from Seattle. The others aboard stopped by and poked their heads in and moved on. Chickens. It was a nice idea though. Instead we made friends with our dining partners who are both well known in the Christian music industry. After the first dinner, I thought they'd move to another table but instead they came back and talked about the hairdresser uncle, beloved member of the family.

That paragraph was lousy and all over the place. So the bluesy post vacation thing is upon me. We walked the entire city of Rome in a day, so yesterday I figured I'd find out how much of Montreal I could walk. Pretending I was on vacation and exploring, the walk was marvelous as I admired the architecture, the musicians hustling for money, the huge sidewalk sale on St-Laurent street (scored three dress shirts originally $125 for $15 apiece), the bands practicing for the Fringe festival, the First Nations pow-wow where artists carved stone and bone while others sang rounds on stage, the new patio at Starbucks in the village. I sat there and people-watched for a while. The city is trying something new this year, they're closing down the street to cars for the whole summer. All the restaurants and cafes have been permitted to build temporary patios out into the street. It's going to be THE place to hang out this year. So I was mollified a bit. Vacation isn't over, it's only a state of mind accessible any time (except I suppose while chained to your desk at work.)

Friday, June 20, 2008

Trippets 3

Nearly every night on the boat, we spent time in the Habana Bar where this great jazz trio played. I'm going to buy their cd. Have a listen to a song of theirs. Jane on the keyboard blew my mind.

Ulla and Ugede (sounds like ooh-gay-day which I loved) our dining room team waiters were so fun. They had to do corny dances at the end of the dining period and I was kind of embarrassed for them. But they made us feel like family, and that my friends is the secret to success.

The bottoms of lampposts along the Arno river in Florence. It seemed that everywhere we looked, there were interesting details to be observed.

The ruins in Rome were so eerie. I kept imagining it glisteningly whole and filled with toga clad people.

A church in Florence. (I should know the name but I don't. I could probably find it on a map though. We had lunch at the little square there.)

Several things were common to all the cities we visited. Pigeons and graffiti and naked statues among them. I'll have you know that it's a flight of pigeons, not a flock.

So many pictures of Venice. Here look at the pretty gondolas.

At the famous Trevi Fountain, we didn't throw a coin in. It was mobbed with tourists squirming their way down to throw one over their shoulder.

The most famous penis of them all, David. But oh my they were everywhere. In Pompeii, there were stones with penises carved into them on the street indicating the way to the brothel. There were all kinds of penis souvenirs at the stands outside the entrance. I may or may not have bought one.

More penis.

Penis, but it looks like a woman from the hips down.

Penis, plus little boy penises clustered around below. I just don't see that flying in America.

Grrrrrrrr. I think his penis is in the young man's hair. This ends the penis statue cavalcade. And I didn't even show you the one on the Arc de Triomphe and the one where one guy is rubbing his on another man's thigh. (came out blurry)

God Venice was beautiful, wasn't it?

Oh right we went to Cannes too. There were many overly tanned people there.

They are serious about dog poop though.

Finally, a Lady in Rome.

Trippets 2

I got through all the photos and selected 170 for the final folder. Of those, you're only seeing a third. Yesterday you saw Paris, Naples and Croatia and today we'll focus on Venice, Messina and Barcelona.
Here's a shot Serge got in Venice. I titled it "lady in Venice". We took more pictures in that town than anywhere else. Everywhere you turned, the scene cried out, "Take a picture of me!"

I kept thinking, "I've done a puzzle like this."

You never know who you'll be assigned to eat with in the dining room. Our table mates were two wonderful girls, a mother-daughter couple who we really enjoyed getting to know.

The gondolas in Venice are quite pricey, but taking pictures of them is free.

I had to throw in a picture of us to prove that we really were there.

I loved the sweets shops. Makes Dunkin Donuts look like pauper food.

This is in Taormina, high on a hill in Sicily.

Most of the time, we shared port space with other cruise ships. Ours is the one on the rear left with the signature Carnival smokestack.

There are statues everywhere in Europe. Boobs galore. Oh and penises too, but we'll get to that tomorrow.

The Messina skyline. As we took our guided tour to Taormina, the guide kept telling us how unlucky Messina was, having been destroyed several times by earthquakes. I wanted her to stop talking about it as we were driving over bridge after bridge as we wound our way up the mountain.

The time at sea was so nice. It was really the only relaxing time we had.

Romantic sunsets on the balcony etcetera.

On La Rambla in Barcelona, there were dozens of buskers. This one was rather eye-catching.

Serge getting goofy at Park Guell.

These are chimneys from the Gaudi designed Pedrera House. We loved our Gaudi tour - did you know we get the word "gaudy" from him?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Trippets 1

I've been working on the pictures, culling, cropping and shrinking for viewing. This is taking a long time. Too many pictures! I went and clicked on my Bloglines yesterday and there were over 1500 unread posts from the blogroll. Too intimidating, so I haven't checked any yet. But I will, slowly but surely, get to my blog buddies over the next week. I have to go alphabetically or I get confused. Over the next couple days, I'm going to post some of my favorite shots from the trip. With captions too! Feel free to click on any to enlarge them.

We took the elevator up but the stairs down the Eiffel Tower. Serge was nervous the whole time. I had to cajole forcefully to get him to stop and take a picture of me.

In Pompeii, they unearthed the spaces where bodies had been but long ago disintegrated. Fill the space with plaster and you have someone's dying moments.

Here is a Croatian toilet. I tried to hit the hole peeing but ended up splattering my bare shins.

The Temple of Love at Versailles. We wanted to, but didn't. Darn Japanese tourists.

We had steak tartare in Paris. With raw egg and everything. Then, the squirts. We couldn't leave the hotel room all the next morning. In my patinaed remembering, it was worth it.

Walking around the Palais de Versailles. So much history. The descendants of Marie Antoinette's sheep still graze the grounds. (Or so they say.)

Waiting to get into the Louvre. I had to poop there too, sigh. Museums and clothes shopping I tell you.

In front of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. We fed the birds, avoided the gypsies and went inside.

There was a lot of creative parking in Paris. Total beehive, that city.

In Paris, the public biking system. I hear they're working on doing that here too.

The Mona Lisa. Yes it's true, small painting.

This is why a balcony cabin is so worth it. Coffee and croissants and the amazing movie of sky and sea.

Inside the Louvre, it was sometimes hard to see where the people ended and the paintings began.

I love the way they display ice cream in Europe. We all ordered one at this place. It was 10 in the morning. I felt just like this kid even though I am fitted in this gangly adult body.