Saturday, November 7, 2009


(PHOTO: New computer cam tries to capture my Cheshire Grin. Unfortunately, bad cake had paralyzed my mouth).

I had hoped to post a new recipe for a whole-wheat apple spice cake today.

Unfortunately, my first attempt is now a brick of healthy fodder on the bottom shelf of my refrigerator. It looks good, but something went awry in the preparation.

Maybe I’ve created a muffin recipe – a stay-with-you-all-day muffin. Maybe, well, maybe one shouldn’t try to use all whole-wheat flour instead of a flour blend. Whatever the case may be, it’s clear to me now that I’m no “Ace of Cakes.”

All I know is that a cake isn’t supposed to remind you of bran flakes, or roll on your tongue like Ready-Mix in a cement mixer. Cake isn’t supposed to dehydrate your face.

I may have just invented a cure for acne. On my second bite, when my mouth went bong-dry, I felt a pull from deep within my pores. I’ve had a glass of milk and two glasses of water since my first 2 by 2 inch square of apple spice disaster.

Drinking that much liquid after a piece of this epicurean experiment was like pulling the rip-cord on a life raft.

Despite this culinary misdeed, I’ve had an awesome day. I met Ryann and Schnook at the wall this afternoon, and enjoyed a couple of good hours of climbing and belaying. I knew it was time to quit while ascending my last climb of the day, when I forgot I had feet. It was as if I were dragging myself up the wall, sort of like when a dog hustles her hindquarters across shag carpet.

It wasn’t pretty.

A good fifteen feet after the bouldering line, my feet flailed about like flags flapping in the breeze. I looked down to Ryann, and yelled just one word:


We packed up and headed for our bikes. It was a delicious fall evening, crackling with excitement as Husker Nation scurried about campus in preparation for the showdown with Oklahoma. It was dark out, and I realized then that I had forgotten my halogen lamps. Stupid Daylight Savings time.

Riding hard, passing football fans and drunk idiots, I welcomed the chilled November night into my lungs. Two weeks ago I began the “step-down” smoking cessation program my doctor recommended. I can already feel a difference in my body and my mind. Even so, habitual self-destruction is harder to give up than one might think.

Addiction, even to something as pedestrian as nicotine, shapes and distorts who you are. It's difficult to imagine you and your life without it. It's difficult to admit you're entitled to good things, like love, or life. It's even more challenging to face down your inadequacies and self-destructive nature in a public sphere, with your life "Out There" for anyone to see.

P'UP, though, isn't some narcissistic endeavor. It is not so much a projector of my life as it is a microscope. Even the small things, stuff that doesn't seem related to climbing at all, is beneath the scope of the project. So here I am, thinking about all the years I wasted five minutes at a time, smoking to calm the uncertain beast that is, when matching my feet and plotting my approach, humbled and silent.

All my disappointments, the hurt, all those times I didn't get what I needed ... they all get left on the ground, stamped out and discarded, like a cigarette. I love that. So two weeks in to the new cessation program I’m making progress. Nov. 30 is the “no butts, baby, it’s-all-over-but-the-cryin’ deadline.

But it ain’t gonna be a walk in the park, and it definitely won’t be a piece of cake. Thank God.


  1. You didn't tell me you had started the program?! Wow! I'm proud of you! Brad and I are also quitting on November 30th. It's scary to think about, for some reason... It's going to be weird to be a non-smoker, and I suspect, weirder for you and Brad who have been inhaling for longer than I. This should be interesting. But I'm happy for you, and I'm glad we're on the same page of waiting until after the possible horrifying events that can be family get-togethers. Oh Thanksgiving. Here we come, cigarettes and all.

    I love you.

  2. A woman has to have her secrets when trying to make lasting change. I'm sick of smoking - the way it smells, how much time it takes, and well, I don't want to die before my grandkids get married. I'm excited about the change, because I figured out why I started smoking in the first place: to assuage the pain ... stupid, stupid, stupid. I have no idea where this is all heading, or what I'm really up to, but I'm excited about this part. Even if I know it's gonna suck. Climbing sucks at times too. It's hard. But ... when something goes well while projecting a route, then I forget the struggle. I suspect quitting smoking is going to be the same way. I love you too!

  3. Erica and glad both of you are quitting smoking! You are going to feel so much better and be less smelly too ;)

  4. If you ever want to talk about your quit path-process, let me know. It was the hardest and best thing I ever did for myself but I wish I'd taken Marco's theory class b4 I quit cuz I started experimenting with a past-now-future interior conversation pattern since then based on Delueze and Bergson that really helps me climb out of "low" spots. Speaking of climbing, I'll bet that mountain experience is gonna shift and open up even more for you, too.


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