What a week. Really.
On Monday and Tuesday, I was still recovering a bit from the effects of the pollen overload on my system. I went to work, but I was dragging. I was starting to look forward to my birthday, but I wasn’t sure what there would be in celebration. I got a few things in the mail – a cd, a book by Slavoj Žižek (looks like he ripped off Jean Baudrillard in this one), a voodoo toothpick holder (hee-hee), a “Gin & Titonic” ice-cube tray, a Lumpy Bumpy candy bar, some great cards… but there didn’t seem to be anything planned as an event.
I was also dreading the prospect of going through physical and psychological withdrawal. I decided that instead of quitting on my birthday – and ruining the whole day – I’d make my birthday the last day of smoking.
Wednesday was my birthday. I went in to work, a little dressed up, feeling a lot better – and my brother Michael took me out for a yummy sushi lunch. It was good to spend some time with him. I’m a number of years older, and his card said “When we were kids you were always reminding me that you were older.” Inside: “Now I’m just returning the favor. Happy Birthday.” We live pretty close, but we’ve both got demanding jobs and families – and it just seems to be difficult to get together very often. Sharing lunch with him made me really happy, and the sushi was excellent.
Back at work, I heard a little noise behind me – someone had dropped a card on my desk. It was a Peanuts card: “Birthdays remind me of what a great person once said” – and then, when you open the card, it’s that “adult” wah-wah-wah-rhaa noise. “Don’t worry. It didn’t make much sense to me either.” My whole team had signed it. That was really touching. Usually, the birthday person gets taken out to lunch or something like that, so this was extra-special.
But then – I got called to reception for a delivery. Sitting there on the front desk was the sweetest bouquet of flowers – orange lilies and yellow roses and little purple mums. The card inside said “We vetoed Phil’s idea and got you flowers.” Again – from my team (although I know who actually did it – thank you Mark). I actually got all mushy, and didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, so I went and washed my face. So, so, so sweet.
Our neighbors Marilynne and Ron graciously invited us to celebrate with them at their house. What a relief! Our house was a total wreck, and it was depressing. To sit in their warm inviting kitchen and then, later, in the gorgeous sunroom, was a real treat. We had a delicious dinner of chicken korma (I got the recipe) and yogurt and rice and snap peas and broccoli and kale. Ben came with us, and they included him in the conversation and made him feel at home. Their three dogs are the sweetest ever; it almost make me want to get a dog (although I’m still aching for a cat).
We brought beer and wine and a cake with us, and at the appropriate time, John and Ben stuck in the… um… symbolic number of candles, and everybody sang and I made my wish and blew out all the candles. Eventually, John went next door and tucked Ben into bed, and then we all sat around and talked of all sorts of things. Marilynne brought out some well-aged port, and we had a bit of that.
We shared a very fun and wide-ranging conversation, but one of the things we talked about was the website that Marilynne has been working on for one of the Sherlock Holmes groups. Check it out. If you love Sherlock Holmes stories, you’ll find some surprising things – and if you haven’t read any, go here to get started.
The Beacon Society is a scion society of The Baker Street Irregulars, an international organization of Sherlock Holmes enthusiasts founded in 1934 by Christopher Morley. The Irregulars (known as the BSI) meet every January in New York City for a weekend of celebration and study. The Beacon Society serves as a link to other scion societies, providing teachers with local resources to bring the magic of Sherlock Holmes to life in the classroom.
It was a week for flowers. Over the course of the week, John got me three different potted plants. There was the bouquet from work. Then – just today, the parents of one of Ben’s friends brought a big bouquet of mums for my birthday – and to celebrate my progress.
Yes… my progress. Well – I had my last cigarette at two minutes to midnight on my birthday. The last couple of days have been interesting. I’ve been watching the cravings come and go. Paul, you’re right – you can get into a meta-observational place with that.
Still – I have to admit I’ve been easily irritated, impatient, cranky. I’ve even felt a certain inclination toward violence. Oxygen helps. I’ve had some luck blowing in and out of plastic straws – and chewing on them when it gets really bad. It beats eating or chewing gum. I’ve hammered at a piece of wood, broken assorted fallen branches over my thigh, and puttered around – doing laundry, cleaning up, keeping busy, keeping moving. I’ve also been trying to comfort myself. I have the softest, most cuddly socks on.
There have been some cosmic sparkles here and there that have kept me focused, too.
So far, so good.