TWO HUNDRED TWENTY FIVE…a story of addiction

…And we’re still in the desert…

How many times can someone write about “loathing” their current situation without sounding like a broken record…a negative Nancy…a sour puss…a Debbie downer?

I think this will officially be my 3rd negative post while in the state of Arizona. It certainly seems as if I’ve “got it in” for the state but that particular sentiment couldn’t be more wrong. Nothing against Arizona and Arizonans, but being forced to stay anywhere is the absolute antithesis of this adventure.

On Friday we will officially have been in the RV for 9 months. I am not sure if the newness and sense of adventure has completely worn off at this point or if our stagnation is the culprit for my general negativity. Whatever the reason, I need to snap out of it. The negativity is permeating every fiber of my being. Although I will admit, for a Monday, yesterday was not only supremely productive for me in terms of schooling, laundry, cleaning, and organizing, it was also a generally happy day.

Perhaps my unusually happy feelings on a Monday of all days is due to the obvious light at the end of the tunnel. We are making plans to head back to Phoenix on Wednesday for repair of our leaky jack on Thursday. Then we will finally be able to sayonara to the western state who favors the color brown.

So, at least for now, escape with me to the far regions of Angie Beth’s brain.

I intend to share a carefully crafted and somewhat sensitive story of addiction.  I have characteristics which might lead some to conclude that I have a slightly addictive personality. I do not deny the evidence of my past. I tend to latch on to something which gives me a feeling of euphoria and complete satisfaction. Especially when I am feeling out of control of my environment or circumstances.

For the past 35 years, I have had a secret addiction to 2 things. I’m 75% serious, 10% jovial, 8% bored out of my gourd, 5% looking for my next “fix”, and 2% hungry. It is 6 in the morning and due to the confines of our living quarters, I don’t want to make breakfast at the moment, fearing I might wake someone and thus ruin my hour of alone time. So I quietly click away in the darkness.

This is hard to admit…But here goes. My Addictions include 1. chewing gum and 2.sticking Qtips in my ears. 

Chewing gum is my most complex addiction to date. It all began at the tender age of 5 when I locked myself in my granddaddy and grandmothers bathroom. I was a spoiled little girl who refused to come out unless they magically produced a puppy.

I feel so sorry for my grandparents and often wish I could go back to that very day and tell them how sorry I was for my asinine behavior. Thank goodness for my Grandaddies unconditional love. He was able to lure me out of the bathroom with my favorite Bryers Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and a pack of grape Bubblicious Bubble Gum.

It was that very day I discovered my first addiction. I couldn’t get enough of that sweet grape juice flowing freely from the little squishy purple square. I remember sitting in their downstairs bathroom looking out the window watching my granddaddy, the true gentleman farmer, tend to his flower garden. While watching him work, one by one, I annihilated the entire pack of gum in 30 minutes flat. Today, I stay away from Grape Betty. I find the pleasure I derive from grape Bubblicious today isn’t worth the half hour it takes me to tear through the entire package.

Not when there’s Big Red on the market which can last an entire hour and a half. So yes, I have moved from Grape Bubble Gum to Big Red.  That’s about as complex as my gum chewing habit gets.

Feeling out of control on Sunday, I folded and bought two packs of Big Red. As I peeled the wrapper off of 3 pieces of gum, I was reminded of the time my mom and I drove the kids to Beach Mtn., NC for a weekend getaway. It was the height of my gum chewing obsession.

Greg knows about it. He just sits and watches me. He’s very accepting. It’s nice.  

But just for a moment, I forgot about my mother not being aware of my addiction. Abby and Phoebe were in the backseat and I believe I was pregnant with Cecilia.  I was desperate for a pack of Big Red. I zoomed into the parking lot of CVS and slammed on the brakes. “I’ll be right back” I yelled to my mom, running frantically into the store. I returned with 2 bottled waters and two packs of Big Red. One for the drive and one for after the drive.

Before we made our way back onto the highway, I tore open my usual 3 pieces of gum. My mom was busy twisting the cap off her water bottle and luckily for me, wasn’t able to witness the insanity. As usual, I masticated the hell out of those first three pieces. After 15 minutes, I spit out my fat wad and reached for 3 more pieces. My mother, being the natural helper she is, saw me reaching for the gum and said, “Oh here, I can do this for you…you drive.” “CRAP. She’s got the gum” I thought to myself, “Maybe she won’t notice my maniacal need to shove as many pieces in mouth as possible.”

As she handed me a piece I casually asked for a second. She made a face, but unwrapped and handed me another piece. “Should I push it and ask for a 3rd?” I thought. I decided to let it go. But of course, 15 minutes later, when my gum had lost all flavor I was once again jonesing for my next 3…er…2 pieces. I tried to confuse her with a super positive and energetic attitude, “Hey, Mom, would you please hand me 2 more pieces, please?” I quickly turned to the backseat asking Abby and Phoebe to, “Stop screaming” in hopes of thwarting her attention from my ridiculous fanatical gum request to the kids horrible behavior. “Maybe she won’t notice” I rationalized.

Too bad for me, the kids were not screaming at all, but quietly playing with their toys. She was on to me and replied with a concerned, “Angie, this is crazy.”

I immediately felt ashamed, “She’s right…normal people don’t do this…I never want to do this again…I will stop here and now….after these 2 packs because I don’t want that money to go to waste. I will label these next 2 packs of gum, ‘2010 gum chewing final farewell, spring edition’.”

I wanted a toothbrush to wash the taste out of my mouth. With the dull taste of cinnamon lingering, I tried to forget about the way it tantalized my tongue with its sharp peppery sting. I had to be strong for the last 20 miles of our trip.

Almost like a smokers’ withdrawal symptoms I became somewhat irrational and jumpy. The more I tried to “put it out of my mind the more I focused on the pure enjoyment of chewing a ridiculous wad of gum”.

How was I going to get the gum back? Is this going to be a situation where I need to get everyone settled in and escape to the bathroom for an hour so I could chew the entire collection in peace and quiet? She had the gum in her clutches and was full on aware of my need now for sure. Could I somehow divert her attention again? It didn’t work the first time, what made me so sure it would work a second time? How was I going to remedy this situation? I was in a dire straits indeed.

I can’t remember if that weekend became my official, “I don’t do these things anymore” weekend, but suffice it to say it was a very serious situation.

Today, I am proud to say, I have kicked the habit of obsessively chewing gum. occasionally, like Sunday, I fall off my “I don’t do those things anymore” wagon. I splurged on two packs of Big Red and went to town. Otherwise I have managed to steer clear of the juicy goodness.

Sunday was the peak of my negativity…not only did I buy the two packs of gum, I had my way with a cutip. As always, it was a lovely experience.

I’ve had a closet relationship with the Qtip for years. Then in 2012, after the most intense ear ache of my life, I made a decision to put it down. I’m sure, if you are a normal person and don’t shove things in your ear, you might not know that the more you rotate the Qtip in your ear, the better it feels. The orgasmic affect it can have in your ear is mind-blowing.

Now is not the time for you to try it yourself. Don’t start the habit. It’s not worth it. Ok, at the time, it’s worth it. When you first start twirling it around it just feels ok. Then you pass that threshold where your fingers become a little achy and you start to get little tingles on your neck. And then the shiver happens and you feel giddy.

The moment comes and goes so fast and it feels so good…but weeks later when you’re forced to lay down on a heating pad, trying in vain to stop the piercing pain because doctors offices aren’t open on Sunday, your rational side will conclude the few moments of pleasure are just not worth the pain.

I could never figure out why, in my early to mid-thirties I was all of a sudden getting earache. It just goes to show you how aware I am. I was getting earaches because I was shoving the wax further down my ear canal instead of letting it do its natural job. It’s a miracle I didn’t bust an ear drum.

Most likely due to absolute and utter boredom Sunday, I had a moment of weakness. And then came Monday. I hopped back up onto my wagon and made a mental note of why I don’t do those things anymore. I hereby proclaim, I will refrain from purchasing both the gum as well as Qtips.

And this concludes my tale of addiction. Looking forward to busting out of this state Thursday afternoon. I’m sure, once I regain some sanity, I will miss the desert…but right now, we just need to get the bleep out!


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