Have I mentioned that I quit smoking? I have, I quit smoking. It's been a month. I was assisted by that lovely little drug, Champix. Apparently, it tricks the brain into thinking it's receiving what you're addicted to without allowing you to become addicted to the drug. That's ok with me. I run a severe deficit in the will department, so I was happy to take all of the help I could get. Also, I would have Richter measuring mood swings when I had previously attempted. One of the side effects is sleeplessness or very vivid (very, very vivid) dreams. I was determined to see the treatment through to the end (3 months), because I always think I am doing ok, I've kicked the habit, I am born again, only to promptly fall right back into my old filthy ways. But I was having a hard time with the sleep deprivation, and when I was sleeping; my dreams were in IMAX. Intense, techni-colour, Dolby surround sound dreams. Hardly the stuff rest is made of. So I stopped taking the drugs. So far so good. It's been about a week and I haven't thought about having a smoke (well, not really). You know what always catches me by surprise? What is the equivalent to a swift kick in the gut? I'll tell you; every once in awhile when I'm least expecting it, when I am not thinking about smoking I will exhale and it will taste like a cigarette. I call this the Phantom Smoke. This may be the perfect deterrent for some. I am not one of those people. I enjoyed smoking. I enjoyed the taste of it. I enjoyed the seven or so minutes of peace while I smoked my cigarette. My idea of the perfect activity is a warm, sunny afternoon, on my deck or my swing, a good strong cup of coffee, a good book and a cigarette. That right there is my own personal nirvana. But it stinks, it's expensive ($10/pack in the lovely Nova Scotia), I am setting a bad example for my kids, it's gonna kill me, and I am getting sick and fucking tired of being a slave to my vices.
Coffee is another of my vices. I drink a lot of coffee. I can't give it up yet though! I have to be sure I have kicked the nicotine, before I face on the caffeine. I am saying this because I have had nothing but coffee to drink today. Seeing as the human body is, what, 70% water, and coffee is a diuretic, I probably could have added a little water to my drink menu. But I didn't, I didn't even think about it until a few minutes ago. See what I am saying? Slave.
Ugh! I am depressing myself. I'm going to change the subject.
I like to read and I like to write (I may have told you once or twice already). I like to think I will one day write something that will get published. Somewhere along the way, however, I have convinced myself that my lack of formal education makes getting published an impossibility. I know that an education does not a writer make, but I've convinced myself nonetheless. Ok, fine. What to do to improve my confidence? I'll read what I imagine would be required reading should I attend an institute of higher learning (I didn't go to university straight out of high school because of a few poor decisions and general poorness, finances are what keep me from attending now). I have scanned required reading for a few universities and decided I would do okay to stick to the classics. Which I didn't mind, because I love to read, I will read almost anything once and I was interested in understanding the influences of classic literature on today's literature, music, anything really. Also, if I do happen to be lucky enough to become a student again, perhaps I will be a step ahead of the reading game.
Years ago I began reading Dante's The Divine Comedy. I say 'years' because I am embarrassed by the actual number. Equally embarrassing was the number of times I had to start over. I'd get so far and realize I was completely oblivious as to what was going on. I was reading the words but I wasn't understanding them. I was nowhere near a point where I would be privy to a deeper meaning. It might as well have still been in Italian (I have a translated version). I refused to give up though. I started paying attention to the notes in the margin. I made sure my computer was booted and ready to Google if I came across something that required Googling (lots and lots of stuff). Eventually it began to mean something. I began to see the point. I made it all of the way through Inferno. I have begun Purgatory. I don't know that I have begun to understand the deeper meaning, but I certainly get the story. I think. Ha!
In an attempt to further my 'classics quest', I have also read; Jane Austen, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (I love, love, love Sherlock Holmes); Tolkien, some Oscar Wilde although I will have to revisit him, and others. My latest? Geoffrey Chaucer. I bought The Canterbury Tales at the used book store the other day. I haven't gotten past the introduction. Already I'm disheartened. From what I understand (keep in mind I have read, maybe, 6 pages), even though Chaucer was born and raised a Brit, he decided, oh I don't know, for shits and giggles, to make up his own language!
For when thy labour doon al is,
And haast maad alle they rekenynges,
In stede of reste and newe thynges,
Thou goost hom to thy hous anoon,
And, also domb as any stoon,
Thou sittest at another book
Til fully daswed is thy look.
The book I have picked up is a 'Selection Edited with Introduction and Notes by Daniel Cook', who is of the belief, it seems, that 'it is a needless deprivation of pleasure to be obliged to read Chaucer in a translation'. What?! Does this mean the whole book is written like the above passage? Oh good heavens, what have I gotten myself into? He goes on to assure me he is going to teach me the language Chaucer uses with relatively small effort on my part. Apparently, he doesn't know his student. If the length of time it has taken me to read as much as I have of Dante is any indication, I should be able to tell you what The Canterbury Tales are all about in a decade or so.
P.S Ha! I just did a spell check, 'cause I am done for the evening, and I think the program had an aneurysm after trying to spell check that god damn passage!