In a little over a month, I will be knee deep in my 7th packout for an international move (does not include all the little airfreight packouts from trainings or homeleaves). You would think that by this time it has all become routine, no big deal, easy-peasy… HA!
No matter how many times you do this, it’s always stressful. Countries have different rules (hello NZ with your paranoia of all things wooden – don’t even LOOK at a pinecone while packing out your Christmas stuff). The regs with your home organization change with each new administration. The circumstances in your own family change (you add kids, subtract kids – or pets). If I wasn’t so mindful of the calories (or the fact that I gotta drive to soccer games and barbershop singing rehearsals for Meg), I’d be polishing off those last bottles of wine and rum about now.
For awhile, I’ve been “organizing” our stuff. I haven’t got to the point of piling stuff into the different shipping piles yet, but that is coming soon. Right now I’m trying to isolate into their own cabinets those things that need to stay in NZ (garage remotes, extra keys, lamps I’ve stashed in closets, etc). On pack out day I’ll tape DO NOT PACK signs all over these cabinets and closets in the hopes that they will be heeded. I’m also trying to weed out those things I need to get rid of. I’ve got little piles of stuff all over the house and so far I feel a bit like the packrats from the old timey cartoons that spend hours carrying stuff back and forth between piles, but never actually organizing anything to the point of moving on!
Then there’s all the questions of how to send what where. How much do we actually need to send in our airfreight? Most of the time our HHE has arrived roughly the same time as the airfreight, AND we’ve been able to keep the welcome kit until the HHE arrives. But will this be that time when it takes forever for our HHE to arrive and the new post demands the welcome kit back when the airfreight gets there? And add the extra leg for stuff that needs to be sent to the house in Arkansas on a cost construct basis and the airfreight for the college student.
In the end we’ll get it all figured out. Everything will get packed, and really as long as I make sure the passports and car keys don’t get packed, we should be fine. We have survived this process over and over again – without drinking! I still hate it…
The other day I was out with friends in Petone, eating crepes and walking Jackson Street, window shopping and impressing people with my knowledge of Lower Hutt cafes and indigenous shops.
All of a sudden, out of nowhere, I was held up at gunpoint by a storm trooper.
Just when I felt all hope was lost, I was saved by Han Solo.
He asked me to run away with him. I told him that I was grateful for his help and completely flattered, but I’m already married to Indiana Jones.
And he takes me to cool places AND carries my camera equipment. And he’s just generally awesome all around.
Fortunately Darth was nowhere to be found in Petone. We caught a glimpse of him in Aro Valley and he clearly has his own issues right now. He just hasn’t been the same since the Death Star was destroyed.
I have no idea if the Dark Side really does have cookies, but apparently they do have cupcakes. Very, very large cupcakes.
So I’ve officially been nicotine free for 2 and a half months! Woohoo!
I only miss it once in awhile now – like when we went to a bar after work to see a good friend off (and that was only initially – once engaged in conversation, all thoughts of smoking vanished), or when I am engaged in creative work (that one’s almost gone), and when I’m knee deep in planning for an intercontinental move with pets, one kid going off to college, and a whole host of family and friends I’d like to see in a ridiculously short time frame (this is why wine is popular among trailing spouses of federal employees).
Do I feel infinitely better off physically? No, not really. In fact I’ve had to look up a few things (thank you Web MD!) about the actual facts of quitting smoking, like increased shortness of breath and tightness in the chest (D would like a dollar for every time I ask him about whether or not he thinks I’m having a heart attack – or whether that spot is skin cancer. But that’s a different subject.) – these are normal by the way, as your body gets used to breathing normally and mostly normal air again – or digestive issues (won’t go into it, but those are normal too). I’ve still got a crazy sensitve throat and I’d like for that to stop soon. I also seem to find a lot of our regular meals a lot more spicy than I used to. Guess I’ll have to retrain my taste buds…
BUT…I’m not so distracted by the need to smoke, and I’m a whole lot richer financially (so won’t tell you how much cuz it’s just embarrassing here – and I’m not even a pack-a-day smoker). The stain on my front tooth (you know the one next to the snaggle tooth?) is pretty much gone now. And I have confidence that I’ll start seeing some physical benefits soon.
I know I’ve said it over and over again, as has just about everyone else. But it bears repeating – NEVER EVER, EVER, SAY NEVER – EVER!! Especially when one is part of the Diplomatic Corps wandering the globe.
“I will NEVER do a posting in the Middle East.”
Our second posting was in the Middle East even though logic dictates that our bids for west African countries should have been shoo-ins. (Assumptions about logic in the FS and the quagmire that is the reality of “hard and fast” rules about this life and job are a WHOLE other blog topic.)
“We will not get anymore pets while in the Foreign Service.” (Which is a lot like saying NEVER. The universe doesn’t bother with semantics)
We ended up keeping the boxer we were babysitting in Zambia because he was too “vicisious” for anyone else to take on when the owner contacted us and said he couldn’t ship him to the US. Then we were devastated when he had to be put down right before our move to NZ (which was going to cost us an arm and a leg, or our first born, to ship him there). So guess what? We now have a new dog to replace the old dog. I am completely smitten with said new dog and the kids are claiming that I greet him with more enthusiasm than I greet them. All decisions about my future are now determined by whether or not the dog can be accommodated and all will be changed accordingly. “No schools at this post? OK, but can I bring my dog?”
“I will NEVER eat horse meat.” (I could insert a lot of things here – it’s been a strange culinary journey, thankfully devoid of fried scorpions)
After days of eating greasy mutton and rice in Western Mongolia, I didn’t even ask what type of meat was in that last stir fry until after the meal. I was just so thankful it wasn’t mutton – again.
These are just a few glaring examples from my life in the FS.
I guess what I’m trying to say is:
“Be careful with your words, lady!”
It’s too bad that these sorts of statements don’t work for weight loss – “I will NEVER be able to fit into that dress.”
So…Decision made. Last cigarette smoked. Family members informed. Deep breath, and here we go…
For the first two days I did nothing – absolutely nothing but lay on the couch. I focused on getting through each and every moment. As much as I could I avoided anything that would cause me stress. I cleared my mind as much as possible and meditated and just worked on existing without the comfort of nicotine and that cigarette in my hand.
Day 3, the day before my inlaws were to arrive in NZ, I knew I had to get off my rear and do something. I needed a shower. I needed to clean the house for guests. I needed to pack for the trip up to Auckland and back! Ugh…
I prepared myself for the day the night before, declaring that I would wake up able to function. When I woke up, I battled the initial craving and made myself get up, shower and start cleaning. It wasn’t a bad morning. There were even long periods of time when I didn’t think about smoking. Then I was feeling calm and I would get that “Oh I think I’ll go smoke now that I accomplished that. Oh crap! I can’t. I quit. Damn.” And I would go back into a mental funk. I’d battled back out of it, forget for awhile and crave a smoke again. This happened over and over again. But the house was relatively clean (with promises from the girls that they would make sure it was near perfect when we came back with their aunt and uncle), my bags were packed, and I made it through another day without nicotine.
I have to mention at this point that I chose to quit this time cold turkey, with only occasional use of tiny pieces of nicotine gum. I’ve tried so many times to quit using the patch, or the gum. It just doesn’t work for me. I felt that I really just need to get this toxic crap out of my body once and for all and as quickly as possible. Crazy? Well, yes, but that is my m.o.
Trip day dawns – day 4 – and all is going pretty well. That initial craving is a bitch…We got on the road on time and with no drama. I know at some point I bit off a corner of a piece of nic gum, but I can’t remember if it was before or after we got in the car.
Several miles into our journey, Denver tells me that in support of my decision to quit, he didn’t take any cigars with him. Now Denver likes to smoke cigars while on the golf course. Over the next several days, he was going to play some of the best golf courses in the world with his brother. And now he was going to do so without his cigars? Crap! I told him he really didn’t have to do that. But it was too late to go back for them at that point. Now I was really stuck. How could I possibly backslide and give up after he made such a gesture?
Without too much drama, we made it to Auckland. I think I only ate half a piece of nicotine gum in total the whole day, and was only mildly irritating for Denver (that is my impression – his could be entirely different). Next morning I woke just dying for a cigarette. Completely consumed by the need and hating the fact that I was going to have to be upbeat, engaging and nice when the inlaws arrived while feeling this way. We picked up the guests and headed for our destination 4 hours south. Pulling up to the cabin we booked for the next 2 nights, my sister in law and I looked at the porch and remarked what a great place that would be for a cup of coffee and a cigarette. Damn! But we preservered and did not give in.
I won’t go into each day at this point, but what I have found is that I woke up for over a week dying for a cigarette. I would fight against that until I convinced myself to do something productive. I’m not sure what scientific evidence there is about how long the actual “physical” addiction really lasts. I think most people who tell you it’s only a little bit and the rest is in your mind are people who have never really dealt with addiction and they are all full of crap. Just my opinion.
All I know is that for at least 2 weeks, if not longer (I’ve lost track of exactly what happened when) I craved a cigarette with absolutely every fiber of my being. I actually felt like I was in physical pain for most of that and psychologically I was a train wreck (but nicer this time – I think I made a concerted effort not to go too off the rails at my family this time. Though while on the trip through Taupo and Napier, I did get way too short and bitchy with my sister in law – Sorry! I love you for understanding and putting up with me!!). I cried a lot. I mourned and grieved alot. I realized that smoking was pretty close to number one on my list of things I looked forward to, which made me feel even more like crap and pathetic.
I’ve heard that giving up smoking is a lot like giving up heroine. I have no idea whatsoever if there is any truth in that. But I do know that if heroine addicts go through even a tiny portion of this, they have my greatest sympathies and compassion if they falter before giving up the ghost. This sucks so completely.
This time around was strange for me. I did not do my usual “hack up a lung” process. I was pretty shocked when this didn’t happen. I’m not sure what that says about my lung functions. I did notice my throat, while not sore, did feel like there was something perpetually stuck in there – like a hairball. Turns out that after years of being “smoked” the tissue starts to regenerate itself and you will feel it as it does so. That was weird…
I also noticed that I spend way less time on computer games (stupid, useless card games I am already ridiculously good at winning). My OCD has let up its grip and I’m doing more things away from the computer. I do have a lot more energy (but no, I am not interested in running a marathon with you ;).
It’s been a little over a month and I am now completely nicotine free. I slow my pace a little when passing the smokers outside of buildings, hoping for a bit of second hand bliss (lol), and I want a cigarette even as I type this. But at least now I know I have the willpower not to cave. I even had 3 little glasses of Bailey’s the other night and did not have to fight the craving for a smoke.
Here’s to quitting!
It still sucks…
Hi my name is Brandy, and I’m a smoker.
I have smoked on and off, but mostly on, for about 25 years. Somehow, by the grace of God, this and caffeine have been my only chemical addictions, and I always felt proud of that. I like smoking. It calms me down. It gives me an excuse to get away from people for a specified period of time. It’s the last little bit of my “rebel” personna from my youth. Yes it appears that my ego has clung to this particular identifier with intense fury.
But as the world gets more and more anti smoker, and my body gets older, I realize that I really need to quit. As the only one in my little community now that smokes, I am hyper aware that I smell really bad when I come back in (and that’s just my clothes – I don’t even want to think about how my breath must smell). It has also occurred to me that, hey, this is pretty bad for my lungs. And while I don’t really feel it now. I could very well end up with emphysema in the next 10 years and that could really make retirement suck, lol. What really got under my skin lately, however, was how much power nicotine has over me and my life. As a friend of mine pointed out, us smokers spend an unnatural amount of time thinking about cigarrettes and smoking. When will we get our next smoke break? Do I have enough to last the day? Is there anyplace nearby I can get some? Does anyone else in the group smoke, or will I have to defend my habit to a bunch of rabid anti-smokers? Who cares what they think anyway! I am who I am and they can bite me if they don’t like my habit…
So, ya. I got a wild hair after Christmas. I don’t believe in New Year’s Resolutions. I do believe in goals, and I think people should set them whenever is convenient or appropriate, not just when everyone else is. It just so happened that this opportunity came at the start of the year. My brother in law and his wife were all set to visit in a week. Sis in law had quit smoking using Champix. It was in the back of my mind to quit for awhile, but this propelled me forward. I knew that if I smoked around her, I was going to set her back again (we don’t drink around alcoholics, right?). I gathered up my resolve, smoked my last cigarette from my pack, and decided I was going to try to quit.
When Mr. Herren came home from golf I informed him of what I was going to do (so he could identify why in the world I was much more difficult than usual). Instead of the expected support and positive reinforcement for taking such an important step, I was met with a blank look and “Why?” This reaction was less than encouraging. I started to freak out. I won’t be able to do this. What was I thinking? No one thinks this is a good idea. Upon reflection, I can completely understand his hesitation. We had house guests flying in from the other side of the world. Did we really want to subject them to the horror that is Brandy without nicotine?
In the end, I decided to go ahead – with the caveat that I may not make it through. If it was too bad, and I was too unbearable, I would give it up and try again another day.
Turns out that it was somewhat smart – if not entirely pleasant for those around me – to choose the timing that I did. One – I gave myself 3 days to get over the initial OMG! of giving up before we took off on our trip. Two – the social responsibility of not the being the one to knock a friend off their wagon weighed heavily on my conscious mind. Three – I would be constantly in the company of others for 3 weeks, so there would be no opportunity to sneak in smokes while I was at home alone. Any backsliding I did would have to be done up front and in full view of those who are encouraging me to quit.
So there you have it. My decision to quit was made. Tomorrow I’ll take you through the lovely journey of quitting. I’m currently in the bitter angry stage of grieving, so that may color my language, but I’ll strive to keep it pg.
After several days of laying around and doing absolutely as little as possible, I woke up this morning ready to accomplish something. I did the dishes and then tackled the Christmas tree. No not literally. It’s still upright, I just finally took all the ornaments off and put them away. Just as I was finishing up unstringing the lights (you know, the ones I had to put on it since the prestrung ones died?) Mr. Herren (he has expressed doubts about being called Master Herren) came home and suggested that we go out for something to eat and then play nine holes of golf.
As usual, I was hesitant, but I could tell he must have played badly that morning and needed to figure out his game. Plus I really needed to get out of the house. So I got changed. Mr. Herren gathered up my clubs, and we were off to a local 9 hole course.
Now, I do not play well. I did finally take lessons, but I don’t play regularly. When I do play, I just want to whack the ball and move on. I don’t want to take 20 practice swings, I don’t want to spend 5 minutes lining up the shot. I just want to hit it and go. Fortunately for me, Mr. Herren just wants me out there, so he’s never been overly critical of my stance, or my techniques and he doesn’t make me play a real game or keep score. That keeps the pressure off and helps me enjoy it much more than if I worried about all that.
This time I decided to keep score, just to see where I was in relation to the last time I played (um, about a year ago) when I scored 76 in nine holes. After a very enjoyable nine holes, with one hole with only a single bogey (single bogey! That’s awesome for me!) we added up the score. 59! Not a bad improvement for someone who only plays once a year. Next year, maybe I’ll score in the 40′s…