Namo amitabha Buddhaya, y'all.
This here's a religious establishment. Act respectable.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Talk Thursday: Year's End

Aaaaaand suddenly it's the 29th of December. I'm not sure how that happened. I'm pretty sure I haven't missed any days, but how so many of them squeezed into that little span of time between January 1 and now, I can't explain. It seems like the older I get, the more time slips into fast forward. Somebody told me once that it had to do with my relative perception of time; the longer you've been alive, the greater the frame of reference you have for which to view time, so a year seems to go by faster at 45 (when you've had 44 years to view how long a year is) than at 9 (when you've only had eight years). To which I say, hooey. Sounds like something Einstein came up with when he was tossing a ball around on a spaceship and trying to prove that it got to its destination before it left. There's no excuse for clumsy theories of relativity.

Anyway, I'm at Afrah, munching on a piece of pita bread and trying to figure out if I have any great rituals to mark the passing of another year. I know I used to, but that was back when A. I drank alcohol and B. I felt like it was necessary to actually go out on New Years Eve. That I can't remember what they were is, you know, just par for the course. I got home, that's the important thing. At some point I began staying home, which was just, you know, smart. The year that 1999 begat 2000, Joan and I drank an entire bottle of Asti Spumante and began firing a cap gun off the balcony of our overpriced San Diego apartment. Then Joan staggered back out onto the balcony and yelled, loud enough to be heard in Tijuana, "'Sokay, everybody! 'Sjust a cap gun!" because she was worried somebody might call the cops. So far as I know, no one did, though a scared little voice floated in and said, "Thank you," very faintly from another balcony. (Call the cops. Ha. In our fine Texas neighborhood, a whole gang of morons, no doubt led by my idiot neighbor, open fire on the sky right around midnight, and the cops don't even bother to call back.)

New Years Eve is the one time of year I kind of miss alcohol. Not enough to go back, but there's something kind of homey about lolling around on your couch, pleasantly drunk, playing "spot the facelift scars" on Dick Clark's head while the crystal ball (made in Ireland, by the way, at the Waterford Crystal Factory) descends over Times Square. This is, of course, assuming I can even stay awake until midnight; I'm pretty sure that last year I curled up in a blanket, rang in the New Year with Maine and Florida and promptly fell asleep. And that was without alcohol (six years sober, y'all.) I'm gettin' old, Zeke.

So, apart from falling asleep, I don't really have any rituals to ring in the New Year. Every year I plan to get the house clean before the ball drops, and every year that kind of doesn't happen. House blessing? Burning sage? Casting a couple of spells? Nah. Never happens. The guns go off, if we're still conscious we hide under the dining room table, and in the morning we're about the only two among our circle of friends who aren't hung over. Which is great, but no claim to fame, really. We're also the only two that probably didn't go anywhere.

Some friends at work who happen to be from Mexico were talking today about "the grapes." Apparently on New Years Eve in Mexico and other Latin American countries, you try to swallow one grape for every time the bell tolls at midnight, and each one begets a wish. (Allergic to grapes over here, so can't do that, but that's an easy way to get a dozen wishes, if you ask me.) There's also something you do with a suitcase, but I was a little unclear on that. Maybe you put grapes in it. In France they're fond of fireworks, in Russia everybody's supposed to be quiet for the last twelve seconds of the old year, and in Scotland your year's luck is determined by the first person to set foot in your house after midnight. (Ouch. I wonder what happens if the first person is a lost American tourist with a full bottle of whiskey, a set of plastic bagpipes and a really bad map of Edinburgh? I mean, that could herald the Apocalypse.)

What do Buddhists do for the New Year? Well, hey, if they're part of Brother ChiSing's gang, you have a New Years Purification Ceremony. (Buddhists are big on ceremonies.) If you're more Zen, you're probably just going to meditate quietly somewhere. And if you're me--well, yeah, you're probably hiding under the dining room table. Dang, but those guns are loud.

Happy New Year, everybody!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Boxing Day Deathday

Hope you all had a fine Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Solstice. We did. There were presents (small ones, but presents all the same), a Christmas ham, twinkly lights on the tree and a whole lot of lazing around not doing much. Oh, and we went out for Chinese food with friends. That should become a trend. I ended up with a bunch of gel pens (whoo hoo!!), a new scarf, gloves, a cover for my nooky nook nook and some credit at Barnes & Noble, also for my nook. Joan ended up with a book about Doc Holliday, a gun that fires ping pong balls (don't ask), a cute li'l Irish wallet, the download of a Shakespeare play starring David Tennant and one of the other Doctor Who regulars, and a ticket to see Hal Holbrook in Mark Twain Tonight!. She's really excited about that last thing.

Then, the next day, things got weird. I don't know why I'm surprised, things always get weird around here sooner or later. Have you guys ever known somebody whose birthday was right around Christmas? And they always had people buying them gifts and saying, "Now, this half is for Christmas, and this half is for your birthday" and stuff like that? I did. I had a boyfriend (no, really, I did once; high school and early college) named Noah. His birthday was the day after Christmas. I used to joke that since his birthday was on Boxing Day I should take him to a boxing match. I don't think he ever thought that was funny. But anyway. For reasons on which I am unclear, I Googled him yesterday, to see if he was on FaceSpace or MyBook or whatever and maybe told us what he was up to on his birthday. Was I ever surprised to discover that he wasn't up to anything on his birthday because he was dead.

No doubt, I had the right guy. His first name is Noah, which is not exactly common, and his last name isn't exactly common either, though I'm not going to list it here. The birth date was right and the middle name was right. He died in October. I sat here and blinked a lot. I mean, hello. People aren't supposed to die at the age of almost-45. Particularly without explanation (all I could find was a mention in the Arizona Republic obituaries and the Social Security death registry). There was no mention of a funeral home or a burial site, no listing of "the deceased is survived by." It was about the loneliest obituary I've ever seen. This morning there were two notations in the guest book, left by me and a mutual friend that I emailed with the news yesterday. That's it. That's all. The rest is a mystery.

I might add, we didn't break up under the most pleasant of circumstances. Our relationship was stormy, with frequent fights (some physical) and even a call to the cops one time, courtesy of my neighbor. (Thank you, neighbor.) He was both mentally ill (I know, I know; I see untreated bipolar disorder in everybody--but I think he really did have it) and physically not-well, and he was in the process of flushing his entire life down a large toilet when I decided not to see where all this was going to end and left. He maintained for some time afterward that I left him for a woman, which was partially true but had the unfortunate effect of making it look like he drove me to become a lesbian. (Yep, he drove me and dropped me off. I told him I'd call when I was ready to be picked up. I haven't called yet.) So, this thing about him being dead is a little weird. I'm not sad. In a way I'm kind of relieved. He's probably a lot happier, wherever he is now. (Hopefully not haunting the ASU Library looking for books on art history, critique and semiotics. In all seriousness, you librarians over there at Arizona State may want to have an exorcism.)

What is sad, is adding another name to my list of dead friends. I'm not even very old and there's already quite a few. I don't know if 1987 was just a particularly dangerous year to graduate from high school, or if my generation is just monumentally unlucky. Brain aneurysms, car accidents, "unknown causes" and suicides. Maybe we're cursed.

Or maybe that's just the way baseball go.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Talk Thursday: The Christmas Letter

Is it just me, or has the whole year been stuck on fast-forward? I'm positive by this time last year it was just barely August. Now here it is December, and all kinds of things that I was counting on haven't happened yet. I haven't dropped forty pounds, for one thing. I don't have an agent yet, for another (came really, really excruciatingly close, though. Damn, I hate the near misses.) Haven't taken off on a six-day cruise down the Volga River between St. Petersburg and Moscow, with a two-day stop at the Hermitage to, you know, take in some art. (Well, realistically, that's one for a fatter budget year.) And now all of a sudden it's about to be Christmas and I haven't (gasp!) written the Christmas letter yet.

(Do Buddhists write Christmas letters? Heck, do Buddhists even celebrate Christmas? There's a question that you can ask ten Buddhists and get twenty different answers, never mind forty deep discussions. As far as I can tell, there's one big Buddhist holiday and it's in the spring. The rest of the year is pretty much holiday-free. Or, as I like to think of it, every day is a celebration of life. So Buddhists celebrate everything. Which I guess makes us the anti-Jehovah's Witnesses. If one of those folks knocks on my door and we happen to shake hands, will we explode? Somebody needs to tell the people at the Large Hadron Supercollider.)

I don't know why so many people have a beef with Christmas letters. I like them. There are plenty of people in the world that I used to hang around with a lot but since more or less lost touch with, used to be good friends but our lives went different directions and we drifted apart but I still care about them, that I'm tied to by blood but haven't seen in a long time, and so on, and I really don't think hearing from them once a year is such a huge imposition. Maybe I would mind if the Christmas letters I got were all about their kids winning the Tri-State Spelling Bee with their rendition of psychoichthyspaliadosis while their husbands were busy getting promoted to junior partner at Jackal Jackal Jackal Hyena and Slug, but they're not, usually. Most of the people I know are pretty ordinary. Some of them have some pretty extraordinary stuff going on (like living in Trinidad, or with twenty-six rescue cats, or with stage-four lung cancer), but they, themselves, are just ordinary folks. The older I get, the more I appreciate ordinary.

I try to write Christmas letters that are funny, engaging and (most important) true. By nature I'm basically incapable of lying, but I can (and sometimes do) shamelessly exaggerate. So I need Joan to keep my feet on the ground. She has the ultimate thumbs up or down on whether something gets included in the Christmas letter. She also rules on cute, which is a much harder quantity to, uh, quantitize. I mean, it's adorable when the tuxedo cat with only one eye climbs up onto one of our chests and buries her face in an armpit, but to other people, is that cute or just gross? I wouldn't have any idea, see. That's where Joan comes in. (And...expecting a thumbs down on that one. Just in case you were wondering.)

There's also the picture issue. We try to send a couple of pictures along, so people can see that we're aging gracefully. Or not. What few pictures we have of us tend to be on our cell phones, though, and apart from emailing them to myself (which takes ages) I still haven't figured out a good way to get them off. Yes, it's a little faster on the new BlackBerry than it was on the old one, but it still crawls along at a glacier pace. (Obviously I need a Torch. Somebody who has $400 bucks to spare needs to get me one for Christmas. Of course, if I knew anyone who had $400 bucks to spare, I'd probably talk them into donating it to Heifer International for a couple of water buffaloes. I've always wanted to give someone a water buffalo. It just seems like a good thing to do.)

Well, anyway, the Christmas letter isn't gonna write itself, nor is it gonna copy itself, stuff itself into envelopes and mail itself to households in North Dakota, Arizona, Oklahoma and, uh, Trinidad. So wish me luck. Who knows, maybe next year at this time I'll be writing from the Hermitage. Between reading emails from my agent. And forty pounds thinner. Hey, it could happen.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Talk Thursday (on Sunday): Accountability

Tonight marks my last night of ferret-sitting, which is both interesting and sad. I've gotten kind of attached to the little weasels, though I have to admit that they, uh, stink. (Not their fault, really; like skunks, polecats and mongooses (mongeese?), they belong to the family Mustelidae, which translates from Latin as something like, "little weasel-like critters that stink.") The white one (I've forgotten their names) is trying like hell to pull the book away from underneath the door so she can go romping down the hallway, and the brown one is somewhere in the closet doing God knows what and making some strange noises. I hope I don't have to go in there after him. I mean, a man's closet is a pretty private place. Kel is a good friend but I'd still hate to get in there and find out he has, say, a selection of fine evening gowns, high heels and pantyhose or something. There are just things I'd rather not know about people.

Which brings me (however obliquely) to the subject of this week's somewhat neglected Talk Thursday topic: Accountability. That is, the condition of being liable to, answerable to. or otherwise responsible for. I'm accountable for these ferrets, for example. I need to make sure they get back into their little house and that all the doors to that house are well latched. The ferrets will tell you (in ferretspeak, which seems to consist of squeaks and chirping noises) that I'm good for that. Which is to say, I have accountability. In this grand topsy-turvy world of ours, I, a human being, can be counted on for that one thing. We haven't all tumbled into the maelstrom just yet.

Then we take a look at what's going on in Congress and dear God, are we sure about that whole maelstrom thing?

Look, I try to stay away from politics. It depresses me. Especially when we have Joe Joe the Idiot Boy and his seven dwarfs (dwarves?) running for the highest office in the land, railing about what a lousy job the current man-in-charge is doing. (To which I say: You think it's that easy? Go try it sometime.) Besides that, though, we've got all the dwarves (dwarfs?) in charge of doing stuff like deciding about taxes, utterly unable to come to a decision about one lousy tax that they've been talking about for better than a year. It is, ultimately, a complete failure of accountability with these people. As in, they've forgotten who they work for. And to whom they're accountable. And that it has nothing to do with some election that may happen a year from now. And before I get off on a rant here (too late), I'll just ask one question: Is anybody else as sick of this bullshit as I am?

Don't tell me to write my congressperson. He's like talking to a brick wall. My Senator's an even bigger problem; she's retiring and the one Democratic candidate who was going to run has changed his mind and bailed out of the race. (Again, lack of accountability. So what if he'd spend bazillions of dollars and ultimately lose?) I'm to the point where I don't know or care who to complain to about this mess. I just want it fixed, so they can go back to doing things like, I dunno, fixing the economy. Working on the ginormous national debt. Stabilizing Social Security and Medicare. Getting our troops out of Afghanistan. The little things in life. You know. Showing some accountability.

Remind me never to run for public office. I've about had my fill of chasing weasels.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Ferret Sitting and the Collision that Wasn't

I forget how I got talked into this, but some friends of ours are out of town and I've been drafted into ferret sitting. And lizard and cat sitting, but, primarily, ferret sitting. No, that's not really them in the picture. I've been trying to get a shot of them with my cell phone for the last twenty minutes and the little darlings won't hold still long enough. (Well, okay, to be totally honest I've got dozens of shots of them--of their backs as they run away, blurry images of something that looks like a fuzzy worm, a floor panel, half of a guitar--the list goes on.)

Apparently, ferrets have to be let out of their enclosures to run around for about an hour a day or they go stark staring raving mad. I can understand this. One of these two is exhibiting symptoms already, unless those impressive leaps and whirls were actually the chasing of her own tail (and I think they might have been). The other one's been in and out of my backpack several times, and tried to abscond with an empty water bottle on one of the trips. If we could bottle the energy these guys have, we could probably free the nation from OPEC. Seriously, I get tired just watching them.

Changing subjects at right-angle turns: I dunno how many of you watch American Horror Story, but if you don't, you're missing one of the best shows on TV. All the same, one of the conceits of this show has to do with this haunted house being the hub of evil, or one of the hubs of evil, anyway. If you die there you get stuck there, and can't leave the house except on Halloween (don't ask me why they would make an exception for Halloween; I don't write the silly thing). Another one of the conceits is that being dead isn't all that different from being alive. In fact, you might die and miss it completely. Spoiler alert! Violet, the fourteen-or-so-year-old daughter of the family that's unfortunate enough to be living in the house, accidentally killed herself and didn't figure it out for weeks. And it's terribly unfortunate that I'm such a fan of this show, because today I wasn't in a terrible car wreck.

Or was I?

This is what happened. I was coming back to the office from a doctor's appointment. The traffic on the freeway was moving at a pretty good clip; then suddenly it came to a halt, as traffic will do. All the cars in my lane slammed on their brakes. Including yours truly. But I slammed mine on a little too hard, and it had been raining and the road was slick and I went into a skid.

The whole time my brain was yelling at my leg to forgodsake let up on the brake pedal and pump it (my car not having antilock brakes), and the whole time my leg was having none of it. It was pushing the brake pedal all the way to the floor and to heck with what anybody else was doing. I slid down the lane and to the left and right into the guy in front of me. I heard the screech of brakes behind me and was pretty sure the guy behind me was going to crunch me like a bug. There was no way I could possibly avoid slamming into the guy in front of me, and I was going to hit him pretty hard, so I did what I always do in a dire situation. I closed my eyes.

Nothing happened.

After the two crashes should have taken place, I opened my eyes again. Nothing. The guy in front of me was still in front of me, a foot or two ahead. The guy behind me had stopped behind me and a little to the right. And I? I was still sliding, but I hadn't hit anything. And I finally got my leg to unlock so I could pump the brakes and crank the wheel and regain control of the car.

A second or two ticked by. The screeching of brakes gradually stopped. Everybody just sat there for a second. Then, as if we'd all caught our collective breath, we slowly started to pull forward again.

So I drove back to work. Parked the car. Went up in the elevator. Greeted the receptionist, to make sure people could see me. (She could.) Called Joan to make sure people could still hear me. (She could.) So apparently, I am not dead and this is not American Horror Story. But, on the other hand, here I am in a strange room in a strange house, watching two pint-sized weasels roll around on the floor and typing this. That's not exactly normal, you know. And I don't know how in the hell I didn't hit that guy in front of me. Even if the guy behind me managed not to hit me, I should have plowed into that guy ahead. His grey minivan should be a mangled heap of metal in an insurance-company scrapyard right about now.

(Says the litigation paralegal.)

Well, anyway, I ate a sandwich from Afrah a little bit ago, so I'll take that as one more sign that I'm still breathing. But seriously, if I get to my OA meeting tonight and nobody can see me, I might just freak right the hell out.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Talk Thursday: Time

Has come today. Is on my side, yes it is. Keeps on slippin', slippin', slippin' into the future. Makes lovers feel that they've got something real. Only. In a bottle. For me to fly. Too much on my hands. If I could turn back. Nothin' but a good. Of the season for loving. Feels like the first. Love me two. Big. Back in. For the longest. Does anyone really know what it is. And they are a'changin'.

Oh, right. I'm supposed to be writing a blog post.

Well: Today I had jury duty. This is a thrilling prospect for a legal professional who knows she has a greater chance of ever being named a Supreme Court Justice (without law school, or a law license, no less) than she does of ever sitting on a jury. Why? I dunno. Could have something to do with my big mouth. Last time I thought I was getting close--at least, I was part of a group that kept getting hauled in and out of the courtroom and asked many questions--but the district attorney kept asking the same question forty different ways, and at one point I got impatient and said, "Objection. Asked and answered." She turned around and stared right at me, thus making me realize I'd mistakenly used my out-loud voice. And as Neil Tyson would say, five minutes later I was out on the street.

This time was better. I didn't even get near a courtroom. After being stuck in a hallway for about fifteen minutes, which turned out to be entirely the wrong place, I finally got redirected to the Central Jury Room (TM), which was a lot nicer than the hallway. There were chairs, for one thing. It was unseasonably warm and I fell asleep. Twice. Groups of people would get called and go someplace. After a while some of them would trickle back in. I kept waiting for them to call me but they never did. I got through several chapters of this new book I'm reading (Needle in a Haystack by Ernesto Mallo; check it out, and then check out everything else he ever wrote--I just became his No. 1 fan), played with my phone, tweeted a lot and pondered the absurdity of my blown afternoon. Then, right around the time it was too late to really go back to work and too early to really go home, the bailiff-in-charge announced that they were done and everybody else could leave.

Which left me with ninety minutes to account for and no real clue what to do with them.

Ordinarily, on a Thursday afternoon, I leave work and drive up to Afrah, the (stop me if you've heard this one) World's Greatest Middle Eastern Restaurant. I write a blog post, eat some of the (stop me if you've also heard this one) World's Greatest Pita Bread and then go to my OA meeting. But somehow I didn't think Afrah would have wanted to host me for a full 2 1/2 hours. Let's face it, that's a lot of pita bread. So instead I headed home, by way of picking up cat food and litter, with the idea of taking a nap first and heading up to Afrah afterward.

Hands up, who thinks this was a big mistake. Yeah, thanks for the vote of confidence there.

So I got home. I had a bowl of cereal. (You think that's a strange snack, wait until I tell you what I had for dinner: Peanut butter and banana sandwiches on chocolate graham crackers.) I lay down on the couch with Chloe the Cat, who's been glued to my side like an extra sweater lately. And I fell asleep. And my little phone alarm rang to inform me that it was time to get up and go to Afrah. And I...

Went back to sleep. Yep.

Woke up about seven, realized I'd missed both Afrah and my meeting, and came over here. Fished my laptop out of my backpack and wrote this, working around the peanut butter (yes, there is peanut butter on my arrow keys, and no, I don't know how to get it off). And now, with time standing still and my schedule in complete disarray, I think I'll go to bed, before I'm tempted to polish off the rest of the crackers. It's been a strange day, indeed. Most peculiar, mama. Whoa.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Talk Thursday: Natural Consequences

In case anybody's wondering, the little fish-o-gram has not been retired. He's making less than frequent appearances because I'm having, shall we say, a sucky couple of weeks as far as swimming goes. Oh, I'm still showing up, but I'm late or I'm leaving early or else I'm just incredibly slow, and some days I've been lucky to crack a thousand meters, much less log a 1200, which is the lowest notch on the fish-o-gram. (And also three-quarters of a mile, in case you can't calculate that in your head. I can't, either.) I have a choice here between lowering my standards, or just not using the fish-o-gram. So far the fish-o-gram is losing. Still, I'm kind of missing it, too. So we'll see what happens.

This segues perfectly into today's Talk Thursday topic. The natural consequences of eating sugar and oversleeping: Slowness in the water, minimal meterage and missing Mr. Fishy. I dunno what you think of when you hear the expression "natural consequences", but I immediately think of driver's ed. You know, that class in high school that you had to take if you ever wanted to get behind the wheel of a car, but that seemed to have all the practical application to piloting a vehicle that trigonometry did to balancing a checkbook. "Natural consequences" were the ones you couldn't avoid if you did something stupid with the aforementioned vehicle. Take a turn too fast, for example, and your wheels would come off the street, and if you did it exactly wrong, you might even roll over. Slam on the brakes too hard and not only wouldn't you stop, but you'd careen off one direction or another and possibly spin around a few times. It all had something to do with gravity and physics and vectors and thrust and things like that, and you couldn't talk your way out of it like you sometimes could a ticket. If X, Then Y. No unknowns to the equation.


Well, except that we're human beings, of course. And despite the clear and convincing evidence that If X, Then Y, we somehow think we can beat the odds, defy gravity, turn physics on its ear and tell the vectors to come back another day. Every time I take my life in my hands and get on the Suicide Highway (or the 75 Central Expressway, as it's known to Dallasites) I see people do amazing things with cars that are apparently supposed to defy the rule, but instead end up proving it over and over again. Sometimes I come across the wreckage of said cars after they've been proven wrong. So maybe natural consequences are the ones that people don't believe in, regardless of how right-in-front-of-your-face the evidence may be.

I can use myself as another example. I can't, or at least shouldn't, eat sugar in copious quantities. It's practically impossible not to eat sugar at all. Too many things have sugar in them, like ketchup, for God's sake, and peanut butter. I managed it for twenty days once, as an experiment, and boy did I get testy. But if I just avoid things that are supposed to be sweet, like cake and doughnuts and sweet rolls and ice cream and stuff like that, I'm generally okay. Which is to say, my blood glucose isn't zooming up and down, I'm not practically losing consciousness every time I stand up, my meds are working the way they're supposed to and I'm feeling, you know, pretty good. As opposed to that lovely half-dead, dragged-naked-through-wet-grass-and-then-stomped-on sort of feeling that I get when I'm coming down from a sugar high. (I went to a chocolate tasting once--yes, you may point out how incredibly dumb that was--and was sick for three days.)

So logic would dictate that, when a cake or something shows up in the kitchen at work, my brain would kick on and say, "Ahem. If X, Then Y." Especially if it's a white cake with white or cream cheese icing; that stuff is like cocaine. Sincerely. And not wanting to feel like I'm half-dead and dragged-naked-through...yeah, I'd simply stay away from the cake. And sometimes I do. But sometimes I don't. Sometimes I stand there with a fork in my hand, like a crack addict with a dime bag, and say to myself, "Just this once."

Yeah. This once. Natural consequences be damned. If X, Then Y doesn't apply to me. I defy gravity, I repeal the laws of physics. And then the next morning, I drag myself out of bed and contemplate calling in sick. Which I never do, because it was my idiot behavior that got me into this mess. If you're gonna howl all night with the big dogs, don't whine like a puppy in the morning, or something like that. And then, as I'm now back on sugar, I have to get back off sugar. Which--pardon all the drug references, but they're really fucking apt--is like trying to get off cocaine. It's really hard. And even though I know I'm going to have to do it, and that it will be really hard, and that I'll feel terrible for days while the sugar clears my system, I still do it. I still do it.

Which just goes to show something or other.

I read someplace that in the brains of real drug addicts, the "go" signals -- that is, the ones that tell your brain to "go" get drugs after they've been triggered by something--work three times as fast as the "no-go" signals, which are the logical ones that convince you to stop. If you act at all impulsively, you're screwed. You can only kick a habit like this if you're willing to stop and take a few deep breaths each and every time you start craving whatever-it-is, to give the "no-go" signals time to fire up. In short, engage the brain. Pay attention to the natural consequences. Remember that If X, Then Y. Which is, uh, really hard.

Why? Because we're human beings. Just ask those drivers on the 75.