~ Earl Chinnici ~ (excerpt from MAYBE… I’m no longer in an exclusivity contract with this book, so you can expect me to share more freely from it via CleanWIP Magazine now. I also plan to soon publish MAYBE… through other bookstores.) Sometimes changing my shirt is not enough and I have to take a shower or bath to get the stench off my skin and out of my hair. I had so much cigarette poison on me one time that I had to wash my clothes during the middle of the night because even though I put my clothes in the hamper as I headed to the shower, the acrid smell of burned poison filled the entire bathroom. It did not stop at the bathroom door either. The horrific odor then began to drift down the hall headed towards the living room and kitchen. I realize that as a cigarette smoker, I had become accustomed to this powerful odor and I hardly even noticed the smell. On a rare occasion when I did notice, it did not seem to be anything a little cologne or air freshener could not cure. Nonetheless, I am now astonished that I spent the greater part of twenty-eight years of my life stinking worse than a toilet bowl filled with sulfur water.
Thanks for tuning in, so to speak. I’ve been busy creating many fun products for the CleanWIP Storefront while continuing efforts to regain functionality of the collaboration group, now on MeWe. I’m also brainstorming a redesign of this e-zine to help showcase some of the greatest articles, posts, and tweets from everyone who has joined in the CleanWIP fun. Hopefully, we can get soon get back to the business of bringing readers some very special content from authors who prefer the cleaner end of the writing spectrum. ~ Earl
~ Earl Chinnici ~ (This excerpt is from a special chapter of MAYBE… titled “Tips, Tricks, and Dramatic Visualizations.”) Cigarette smoke can ruin practically anything. Electronic devices such as phones, computers, gaming systems, and audio systems are no exception. Consider this as you choose places where you will ban smoking. Get that sticky smoke away from these things! Be realistic with your goals, but challenge yourself every day to some extent. Changing your addiction should be fairly easy if you take it slow and steady. Be firm with yourself, yet remain slightly flexible. Adjust your plan if you feel you must, but try to stay focused on your goals. Bite off only what you can chew. Speaking of which, if you do not take care of your teeth, someday chewing might become far less enjoyable. Imagine trying to eat broccoli, pretzels, or potato chips with nearly all of your teeth broken. If you thirst for knowledge or you hunger for a distraction, learn about “vasoconstrictors” such as nicotine. Research it!
The #CleanWIP theme for February 23, 2021 is CAT. [More info]
~ Earl Chinnici ~ (excerpt from MAYBE…) These cigarettes certainly did not taste like the popular brand that I used to smoke. I had grown accustomed to them, mind you, but the taste was nothing short of disgusting and they seemed to irritate my throat more than the cigarettes that I used to smoke. I often wondered why. I had even noticed that I was coughing a lot more as of late. In fairness, I am not certain that cigarettes were the culprit. Maybe dust was to blame. Maybe it was pollen. Maybe I shouldn’t kiss my cats every time that I pass by them. Maybe if you give me a minute I can think of another excuse.
~ Jessica Marie Holt ~ “You should have shot him,” said Henry. “That dog’s a menace. I ran at him with a pitchfork the other day, and he lunged at me like he wasn’t even scared. Once I whacked him with it he knew I meant business, and he ran off.” “I told Frank if he didn’t get him under control, I’d end up shooting him eventually.” “Why does Frank even keep a dog like that?” asked Henry. “Vernon Peedin got him for protection when the Willis brothers threatened to burn his house down, with him in it, after he testified against them in court. Vernon kept the thing on a good solid chain, and he always took proper care of his fences. And, the dog obeyed him. But you know Frank. He’s lazy and careless. He don’t even look after his mama, let alone keep his dog secure.” Henry shook his head. “Some folks just don’t have any sense of decency.” “Too true,” said Jim. He turned to Louis. “So, your first order of business is going to be filling in the hole that hell hound made, and making sure the coop is secure.”
~ Earl Chinnici ~ (excerpt from MAYBE…) Many of these forgotten cigarettes would smolder nearly to the filter while dangling from my mouth. They would frequently stick to my lips so firmly that they would painfully take a small chunk of skin with them as I ripped them loose. These cigarettes cost just as much money as the cigarettes that I actually smoked and they were the source of much unfiltered smoke around me, but I did not get to “enjoy” them. I may as well have had a poisonous smoldering twig dangling from my mouth. I may as well have tossed my money into a bottomless pit.
~ Earl Chinnici ~ (an important revelation from MAYBE…) Some of the substances currently allowed in the manufacturing of cigarettes sold in the United States are fairly common such as ammonia, butter, caffeine, chocolate, coffee, ethyl alcohol, grape juice concentrate, honey, lavender oil, peppermint oil, pineapple juice concentrate, plum juice, rum, spearmint oil, sugars, urea, vanilla extract, vinegar, wheat flour, wine, and yeast. While some of these substances might seem harmless and others might seem utterly disgusting, it is important to understand that chemical changes occur to the entire mixture as it smolders within a tobacco cigarette. Many studies, conducted by various organizations around the world, strongly suggest that cigarette smoke generally consists of thousands of chemicals including a number of carcinogens, substances that directly cause or promote various forms of cancer. Maybe you have heard of some of the very toxic chemicals commonly present in cigarette smoke such as acetone, arsenic, benzene, butane, cadmium, carbon monoxide, chloroform, copper, DDT, formaldehyde, hydrogen cyanide, lead, mercury, methane, and nickel.
~ Earl Chinnici ~ (a little treasure from MAYBE…) By now, I already consumed fewer cigarettes each day than I did before I started this project. I now consciously considered each cigarette before lighting it. I would ask myself, “Can I wait a little while longer before I inhale more poison”. I also greatly reduced the amount of second-hand smoke inside of my home by smoking mostly outside. In addition, I learned that I should “take a break” to smoke a cigarette rather than allow it to turn to ash and add unfiltered smoke into the air around me. Contrary to popular belief, to allow your cigarette to become ashes while you go about doing other things does not even slightly begin to qualify as multi-tasking.
~ Earl Chinnici ~ (excerpt from Maybe You Should Move Those Away From You) I became obsessed with removing the “nicotine yellow” from my home. If there was a film of cigarette residue coating something that I could do without, and I was unable to wipe it clean or run it through the washing machine a few times, it was history. Off to the curb it went where it patiently waited for a prepaid ride to the county landfill. I even tossed a few things I could have easily wiped clean, simply because they were almond in color and that color reminded me all too well of the nicotine.
~ Earl Chinnici ~ Now, we’re inseparable. When one of us has a rough day, the rest do everything possible to lift our comrade’s spirits. We lost the illusion of security we had always known, but we refuse to succumb to the anguish and the nightmares. There’s no time for it. We have lives to live—and a story to tell. We didn’t set out to be heroes, but heroes we became. I’m sure you’ve seen our faces on billboards and subway walls. We’re uncanny symbols of America’s determination and resilience. Some people claim we’re not human; some claim we’re not real. We want you to know we are. We do have feelings. The entire world has heard the sanitized version of that fateful day and how our actions saved millions, but due to matters of national security, the president urged us to wait a year before opening up to the media. On the White House lawn, he commended us for our bravery; in the Oval Office, he thanked us for our silence. So much remains untold, but through this symphonic memoir, we hope to answer many of the remaining questions. We hope to silence a couple vicious rumors too.
~ Earl Chinnici ~ (a little anecdote that might make it into a book someday) A couple months after a tornado during Hurricane Irma downed a tree across my home and many trees throughout the yard, I decided to order a pizza after a long day of cutting branches and tossing them on a fire. Concerned a delivery driver would question whether the address could possibly be correct, I added “Broken Home” to the portion of the online order form where I could leave special instructions. I was exhausted so I didn’t doubt the wisdom behind my choice of words until the young driver laughed hysterically as he exited his vehicle and began to approach me to finalize the transaction and said, “I’m so sorry for laughing. I hope everybody’s okay. It’s just that… on the way here, I rehearsed how I would explain to a jealous husband that I’m just delivering pizza.”
~ Earl Chinnici ~ (excerpt from Maybe You Should Move Those Away From You) These cigarettes certainly did not taste like the popular brand that I used to smoke. I had grown accustomed to them, mind you, but the taste was nothing short of disgusting and they seemed to irritate my throat more than the cigarettes that I used to smoke. I often wondered why. I had even noticed that I was coughing a lot more as of late. In fairness, I am not certain that cigarettes were the culprit. Maybe dust was to blame. Maybe it was pollen. Maybe I shouldn’t kiss my cats every time that I pass by them. Maybe if you give me a minute I can think of another excuse.
~ Earl Chinnici ~ The featured photo today is of Sanguinaria canadensis (bloodroot) and I’m confident the opening lines from one of my works-in-progress, Skin Cancer, Black Salve, and Me, will help make sense of why I chose this photo for today’s article. Convinced three blemishes on my left arm were cancers, I decided to evict them with the help of a certain drawing salve. I believe most people refer to it as black salve. I prefer to call it bloodroot salve after one of its ingredients, the herbaceous perennial Sanguinaria canadensis (bloodroot). The other ingredients of the blend I chose, namely antimony, galangal, and zinc chloride, do not in my humble opinion, lend well to a poetic salve name becoming of this author. Using bloodroot salve to remove skin cancer is controversial, but I’ve been around long enough to realize the science of medicine is no more static than any science. Some things are widely accepted while others are the subject of relentless debate. We can all surely think of one or more substances or plants once widely used and legal, then prohibited and fought against vehemently, only to be legalized again later. Besides, I do not have a primary physician or insurance and even if I did, skin cancer removal might not qualify as an emergency procedure. Bloodroot salve seemed most plausible for me. I do not claim this was a wise decision, but I’m satisfied with the outcome and will probably choose the same again if presented with similar circumstances. … (This work was inadvertently put on hold after my home was destroyed during Hurricane Irma. I might get back to work on it soon. Since it is a short non-fiction, it’s likely my work-in-progress with the least resistance to becoming a completed product.)
~ Earl Chinnici ~ I could not find a rule book for the shedding style card game I learned as a child in the 1970s—so I wrote one. The excerpt below is from HOW TO: Stick Your Neighbor (Without Starting War). The host combines the two decks of cards to create one large deck and shuffles. Please note that shuffling 108 cards requires a certain degree of skill and finesse. It’s preferable not to allow yourself to get in a bad mood before the game begins if you accidentally drop some or all of the cards to the floor and must crawl on your hands and knees to retrieve them. Instead, save your frustration for later. Players generally have many opportunities to be frustrated during a game and besides, practice is the best way to master the art of shuffling.
~ Earl Chinnici ~ It’s Groundhog Day 2021. But, we don’t have to talk about that. Here’s some news and an excerpt less likely to make anyone cry. I have removed “Maybe You Should Move Those Away From You” from a contract which required, among other things, exclusivity with Amazon and I plan to soon republish MAYBE… to make it available in more places. The following paragraphs are from a special chapter of the book titled “Tips, Tricks, and Dramatic Visualizations” I wrote primarily after I had completely freed myself of cigarette addiction. Remember, smoking is not going to help anything. No matter how rough your day may seem, smoking a cigarette will not make it even a smidgen better. However, it is possible that smoking even one cigarette could make your day much worse. I am certain you can think of at least a few ways your addiction to cigarettes might ruin your day. As a “warm-up exercise,” please allow your imagination to run wild as you consider these two possibilities. Imagine accidentally dropping a burning cigarette into your lap as you are driving home. In an instant, your focus is no longer on driving. You lose control of your vehicle as you try to keep the runaway cigarette from burning your clothes, or even worse. Drive that one home. Next, imagine sitting near a campfire with your friends, smoking cigarettes and carrying on about boats. You begin to feel lightheaded and nauseous. Within the span of two minutes, this feeling of nausea takes second fiddle to the pain that is now emanating from the center of your chest. You lose your grip on your cigarette and it falls to the ground. At that same moment, you begin to grasp that you are indeed experiencing a heart attack. Dramatic visualizations are strong reminders of the reasons why you want less poison in your life, of benefits of overcoming your cigarette addiction, or of the negative effects of smoking. They can be a tremendous help to a cigarette reduction project since they do not require a vast technical knowledge about cigarettes. On the contrary, dramatic visualizations only require an imagination.
I appreciate your interest in this magazine and your patience as I continue to try to connect and reconnect with others who are willing to share from their works here. As you can probably imagine, my recent decision to leave Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter has created several challenges. I’m also relocating the CleanWIP storefront. I may toss in an overall redesign project for good measure. All sarcasm aside, I’m loving the new magazine business page over at MeWe. Whether you’re a reader or writer of clean writings, I hope you’ll join us there.
~ Earl Chinnici ~ (Jenny is a young writer who became quite popular after terrorists showed up at her book signing accidentally. She’s also the main character and storyteller in this novel-in-progress. Here, she tells about her first date with her fiance, Charlie. The book’s title is not yet public.) He closed my door and in a flourishing maneuver similar to a cowboy mounting a horse, hopped into the bed of the truck. By then, I was seriously questioning his motives and his ear-to-ear grin didn’t help ease my suspicious mind. From beneath a loose spare tire, he carefully removed a large cardboard sign and held it for me to read. I was impressed. I could tell he’d spent a lot of time preparing it and I was more than a little ashamed for doubting his motives. He had glued rhinestones and glitter of various colors to make pictures on the sign. Small hearts and horseshoes he’d placed pseudo-randomly around a large horse, rider, and barrel at the center. Artistically forming the glitter into huge rustic letters, he had written “Cowgirl up, Kinsley. Turn & burn!”