~ Earl Chinnici ~ What’s a great way to spend the day before a day hackers have traditionally loved to unleash their “jokes” into the world? Exactly. Back up your important files. Many readers might not know this, but in addition to the work I do around CleanWIP Magazine and writing, I also operate a computer help desk throughout the US at EarlsHelpDesk.com. If you’re unsure how, stop by the contact page of my site then call me for a free consultation today. And please keep in mind, the best time to backup your files is before you have any trouble with your computer, whether from a bad joke or from a less nefarious cause such as equipment failure or a PICNIC.
The #CleanWIP theme for March 30, 2021 is CONTROL. [More info]
Photo Courtesy of NASA: S69-34316 (18 May 1969) — Overall view of the Mission Operations Control Room in the Mission Control Center, Building 30, on the first day of the Apollo 10 lunar orbit mission. A color television transmission was being received from Apollo 10. This picture was made following Command and Service Module/Lunar Module/Saturn IVB (CSM/LM-S-IVB) separation and prior to LM extraction from the S-IVB. The CSM were making the docking approach to the LM/S-IVB.
~ Earl Chinnici ~ “We don’t have to discuss your temper right now, but you’ll have to face it someday. Until you learn to control yourself, nothing will ever change. You’ll never hold down a job for more than a few months. You’ll always… —Charlie?” I listened but heard nothing. Spirits completely deflated, I continued to speak aloud, albeit softly, to no one. “I hate when you walk out and slam the door while I’m talking to you. Maybe someday you’ll realize I’m only trying to help. Maybe someday you’ll…”
~ Earl Chinnici ~ (The opening paragraphs of MAYBE…) “Maybe you should move those things away from you”, she said. I was standing in front of a mirror that rests on the large hardwood dresser in my bedroom. Since I did not see anything out of the ordinary on the dresser, I quickly turned around and scanned the remainder of the room for any sign of a threat. What was it? Although her tone was gentle, she obviously warned me of a danger I did not see. I realize this might seem a bit melodramatic, but several hairs on both of my arms tingled as I searched for these mysterious things and considered how it could be possible for her to see some dangerous thing in my bedroom that I did not see. I then considered for a moment how this was similar to a guessing game I used to play with my siblings. My mind raced through the possibilities and yet I was extremely slow to realize my life was in danger.
~ Earl Chinnici ~ (This paragraph from MAYBE… still makes me smile each time I read it.) Even if you currently smoke like a chimney or salmon, do not worry that you will have to muster up an incredible amount of willpower. It might not take as much as you think. Wouldn’t you feel silly if you went through all of that worry over willpower for nothing, if this turns out easier than you thought it would be? Wouldn’t that be something; if you stressed yourself out so many years about getting off the cigarettes and then come to the realization that you could have actually quit easier than you expected? You would probably get an urge to plant the palm of your hand firmly across your forehead once you realized it was not nearly as impossible as so many people have implied over the years.
~ Earl Chinnici ~ This first “phase” of “my project” lasted for a period of twelve to thirteen weeks. A major factor in the length of my “Phase One” is that I didn’t know there was going to be a “Phase Two”. I did not yet even realize I had a project underway. However, I did want to smoke less. I also felt it would be nice to choose whether to smoke and not just do it because of habit or addiction. Once I allowed myself to consider the many aspects of my habit rather than just make excuses, I realized that my addiction to tobacco cigarettes was way out of control as far back as junior high school. I wondered how much longer I could continue to inhale all of this poisonous smoke each day before I would need a breathing tube.
~ Earl Chinnici ~ 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.
~ Earl Chinnici ~ Dave and Lisa are so good to me. They made certain I had everything I needed and all they asked in return was for me to stay focused on finishing school. Truly, I did not fall too far behind. Besides their persuasion, I also attribute my persistence to the many long conversations I had with Mom over the years about the importance of a good education. After school, I’d usually help out around the shop. Lisa taught me the business side of running an auto repair shop and Dave taught me to get my hands dirty. Once I proved myself, I formally asked for a job. It tickled Dave when I handed him a filled out application one evening after dinner. He said he had to okay it with the boss, although we both knew Lisa would be fine with the idea; she would choose shopping or crocheting over working in the shop any day.
~ Earl Chinnici ~ (from MAYBE…) Apparently, I also enjoy writing. By this point in my little project, writing had become a way to increase the amount of smoke-free time between cigarettes. Sometimes the things I wrote on the pages of my composition book seemed almost profound. Other times, it seemed to be much ado about nothing. Nonetheless, some of the people reading this might find my notes interesting and perhaps even comical at times. I suppose it is possible that these notes may help you live a longer and happier life. Maybe something I wrote in my composition book as I gradually overcame this awful habit and addiction will help you help yourself, a friend, or a family member.
~ Earl Chinnici ~ (a helpful tidbit from a very special chapter of MAYBE…) Many factors can affect perception of time such as age, activities, mood, personality, and environment. Everybody knows “time flies when you’re having fun”. On the contrary, it seems to drag when you are bored, sad, or waiting on water to boil. It may help to keep this in mind if you want to wait a longer period of time between smoke breaks.
~ Earl Chinnici ~ Over the years, my mind and body had become so accustomed to the poisons in the cigarettes I smoked; I would not often notice the fast heartbeat, dizziness, nervousness, confusion, and other common symptoms of being poisoned. I began to feel these things again, each time I smoked a cigarette. Afterwards, I would often wonder how I ever thought these things felt good.
Today’s featured photo is a pseudomural of a green frog peeking over the edge of a canna lily leaf. It is one of 168 designs now available through the CleanWIP storefront with many more designs on the way. Purchases from the CleanWIP store help this magazine continue and also assist in the Hurricane Irma hurricane/tornado recovery effort of its owner. Thank you for your help.
~ Earl Chinnici ~ One such hurdle involved the fact that I do not entirely understand why we stop one day and start another at some arbitrary time that has no celestial meaning whatsoever. Because I was often up at odd hours, it exacerbated this awkwardness for me. In hindsight, I am sure sunset would have been a much more pleasant time to end one day and start the next. Nevertheless, the first few “days” I recorded in my notes consisted of those periods of time between sleep.
~ Earl Chinnici ~ “Please turn green,” I said aloud as I approached the first of two busy intersections between my home and my destination. Nearly stopping about fifteen feet short of the crosswalk, I was glad to see the traffic signal mercifully comply.
~ Earl Chinnici ~ I understand busy. Ever since I published, the work has been non-stop. Although I expected being a guest on Write Connections would be a great way to advance my career even further, my debut book had already touched the hearts of many readers. Several thousand had already connected with me via online social networks and at smaller local events. Due to the large outpouring of local support, most of my readership at the time was within a fifty-mile radius. However, thanks to one particular friend telling her friends and relatives, I already had a surprising number of fans in Kansas too. I wrote about my friends in Kansas and how I love them dearly and about how butterflies danced inside of me as I heard my host welcome each guest. “Hi. This is Rachel of the Write Connections morning show and I’m here with Jenny Foster…
~ Earl Chinnici ~ When I returned home, I really needed to talk with Charlie, distraught by what had happened. I called his job around the time he usually returns from lunch and one of his coworkers told me she’d seen him leave mid-morning. I didn’t remember him mentioning any necessary errands, but since my afternoon was filled with grief and worry, nothing seemed easy to recall.
~ Earl Chinnici ~ After school, I’d usually help out around the shop. Lisa taught me the business side of running an auto repair shop and Dave taught me to get my hands dirty. Once I proved myself, I formally asked for a job. It tickled Dave when I handed him a filled out application one evening after dinner. He said he had to okay it with the boss, although we both knew Lisa would be fine with the idea; she would choose shopping or crocheting over working in the shop any day.
~ Earl Chinnici ~ As I was saying when I first started this story, Cathy and I were on the phone with each other at the time and she was watching me. “Maybe you should move those things away from you”, she said. I hurriedly looked around to see what things I should move, but I did not find anything out of place. Within a few moments, it became obvious to me that I did not understand. Those nine simple words confused me to no end and so I asked her, “Move what things away from me?” Her reply was soft-spoken. In hindsight, I realize that Cathy chose her words carefully so this suggestion would have the greatest impact possible without causing me to feel even the least bit pressured into doing something that I did not want to do. My dear friend Cathy gently replied, “Please don’t think that I’m trying to tell you what to do. It’s your life and you can of course, do what you want to with it. This is just a suggestion. You might want to consider moving those cigarettes away from you.”
~ Earl Chinnici ~ Charlie opened and began drinking his second Crazy Chicken since coming home and when he once again started to speak, the conversation progressed downhill in a hurry. “You stated your opinion five times already. I heard you the first time. Why keep repeating yourself? Sometimes I think you just like to annoy me. It’s a twisted game you play.” My calmness was wearing thin but the meanness of Charlie’s words caused a lump in my throat I had to clear before I could respond. “You know that’s not true, Charlie. How can you say such a thing?” By that point of our talk, he could barely look at me and I just knew he’d come to his senses any minute. He didn’t.
~ Earl Chinnici ~ (excerpt from MAYBE…) I have repeatedly asked “Rachel” not to call me, both by pressing “2” to remove my number from the calling list and by pressing “1” and then immediately telling the “human being” who answers, “do not ever call me again.” I believe it would be easier to perform a triple coronary bypass on a great white shark than to get this devious “company” to stop calling me. Unfortunately, this harassing phone call proved to be a strong trigger. It caused me to forget the burrito I was warming in the microwave and instead, I stepped outside to smoke in an effort to get “Rachel” off my mind. I was drawing close to the filter when I finally remembered the burrito.
~ Earl Chinnici ~ He was flapping his jaws like a chicken flaps its wings when it is chased, carrying on about how one of the managers treated him badly and he didn’t deserve to be treated that way. The constant drone of his voice increased my nausea. I tried to interject, “I need to talk with you,” but it was no use. Maybe he didn’t hear me. He didn’t stop talking, seemingly not even to breathe. Couldn’t he tell I was upset too? Within three minutes, I learned that Charlie had devised a plan to…
~ Earl Chinnici ~ (In my debut, Maybe You Should Move Those Away From You, there are many warnings and explanations prior to the paragraph I’m sharing here. Please don’t do the things I’ve done.) Next, I would use the surgical tape to apply the part of the patch I would be using. This usually required at least four pieces of tape, seven fingers, and a thumb. Sometimes I would also enlist the help of a dresser or countertop to hold pieces of tape until I used them. I tried to smooth out the tape as much as possible to ensure it would not hang on my clothes or annoy me in any other way. Annoyances are commonly triggers amongst tobacco cigarette smokers.
~ Earl Chinnici ~ “I hope this doesn’t come across as indifference, but working here at the station I’ve seen many accidents. If those two aren’t dead, it’d be quite the miracle.” Although I heard Scott clearly, I yearned for a more pleasant outcome, imagining deployed airbags and spared lives. “I have to go to Atlanta,” I said, still shaking, but was quickly bombarded with various reasons I shouldn’t.
~ Earl Chinnici ~ Dave and Lisa are so good to me. They made certain I had everything I needed and all they asked in return was for me to stay focused on finishing school. Truly, I did not fall too far behind. Besides their persuasion, I also attribute my persistence to the many long conversations I had with Mom over the years about the importance of a good education.