I quit smoking on Thursday. I had wanted to try the Liberty Stix for quite awhile. So after 2 days of total cold turkey, I went out today and picked up a starter pack at the local smoke shop. I brought it home and charged it up and gave it my first try around 1pm today. Each cartridge is roughly equivalent to a pack of cigarettes and at my local smoke shop, that brings the cost of a pack to $2.50 which is a little more expensive than rolling my own, but certainly less than a regular pack of cigarettes. The unit with the battery costs about $45 including the wall and usb charger. Of course cost is not the only reason, or even the main reason to give these Liberty Stix a try.
Every year around Thanksgiving, I break out the Christmas music. It is a tradition and I love Christmas music. I have two favorite CDs.
The first is a recording called "A Christmas To Remember". It features music from the church choir where I grew up and my mother sang until her death a few days before Christmas in 1985. The church had put on its "Living Christmas Tree" performance for the second year. The giant Christmas tree was still on display in the church during her funeral. My mom was extremely proud to be a part of that performance. She loved to talk about it, to play the tapes of the music for me. The year after she died, the church dedicated the performance of the Living Christmas Tree that year to my mother and my sister and I both performed in her honor. Then on the 10th anniversary of the Living Christmas Tree, all alumni of the previous years' performances were invited to return and sing. Once again, in honor of my mother, I sang in the Living Christmas Tree. To help us learn the music, they sent each of us a CD of the songs we would need to learn. Each Christmas season, that CD is the first one I play. I sing the contralto part at the top of my lungs with the music blasting through the house, just as I did the two seasons I sang in the real Living Christmas Tree. I sing for my mom.
My second favorite CD is a full recording of Handel's Messiah. I got the chance to sing selections from Messiah while in high school and I fell in love with the music. I was eighteen. And for Christmas that year my mom bought me the choral score. I have had the pleasure of performing Handel's Messiah several times through the years, each time using my own score. It is full of direction marks, dog ears and paper clips. In recent years I've participated in the Messiah sing-in generally sponsored by the local Seventh Day Adventist church in Kettering, Ohio. The score means a lot to me. It is one of very few things I have in my possession that came from my mother. And, just as I do with the first CD, each Christmas I pull out my Messiah score, pop in the CD and sing the contralto part of every chorus at the top of my lungs, secretly hoping all the while that my mom can hear me and is singing along.
I've been smoking for about 10 years. I've been singing my whole life. Of course I'm no Barbra Streisand, but I do believe I've been blessed with a descent singing voice. Until Thursday, that is. When I broke out the traditional music and started singing, it was clear to me that I had lost my voice, particularly the upper register. Now there is no question that we all lose bits and pieces of our youthful singing voice as we get older. But this was different. No amount of warming up or vocal exercises would help to permit me to sing even an A 4. The majority of my adult life, my voice was a mezzo-soprano and I generally chose to sing contralto in situations where there was no mezzo-soprano part.
All science aside, in that moment on Thursday when I attempted to sing something which I could sing with ease just a year ago, but could not now, I was deeply troubled, deeply saddened and decided right then that I would not smoke again.
I may never get my voice back, but I will lose no more of it to smoking.