smoke, up in

Smokingissocool I went from a pack a day down to nothing at all and I’m still waiting for the shock to kill me. It’s kind of like holding your breath and leaping off a cliff–free falling, nothing to lose, and then a giant splat at the end. Actually, it is, in fact, nothing at all like jumping off a cliff, except for the part where it really, really sucks.

The quitting kind of came by accident–we were walking to the train stop, and I pulled out my last cigarette and lit it, and suddenly the train came, and we ran for it, and I threw that last cigarette, still lit, over my shoulder and somehow, I just didn’t buy another pack all weekend, and all week, and it was Saturday, just a few short days ago, and I had been quit for an entire week, just like that.

On this one hand, way over here in the good corner, I’m okay with that. Hooray for pink lungs! Hooray for healthy hearts and a distinct and palpable lack of cancer! Hooray for saving $35 a week and hooray for me and my fine, upstanding sense of self-preservation and discipline. The feeling of self-righteousness alone is so totally worth it.

On this sad and trembling hand that shakes over here in the corner in the dark, however, it sucks and I hate it I hate it I hate it. I like to smoke.  No, I love to smoke. I love the ritual–pulling it from the pack, tapping it, lighting up, inhaling, tapping off the ash. I like how it feels in my hand; I like to gesture with it, and in my secret heart, I never really got over the idea that smoking makes you look cool, and I need all the cool I can get.

Also, there is the fact that some of my strongest, gut-punching moments of attraction to people have been watching them light up, taking a long drag, cocking an eyebrow at me through a column of smoke. Something about the sure hands, the tilt of the mouth, the whole casual elegance of smoking, the self-assurance. I’ve never said it was healthy–but really, when you’ve got sexy, who needs healthy? Please do not try to confuse me with your logic. Thank you.

So, on the plus side–healthy, well-being. On the minus side, a physical kind of comfort and a weird fetish. Health is going to win out, of course; I am not made of money, and I do love to breathe and run–but that doesn’t mean I have to be happy about it.

Clearly, I’m not happy about it, because I went to a party last night and someone handed me a cigarette (read: I said, Oooh!” and they said, “Here!”) and I smoked it and asked for another and another (annoyingly, I am sure) and then another and another. Each one, I smoked down to the filter and gestured with and felt comfortable having it in my hands. But there was that undercurrent of no, bad, wrong, I shouldn’t be doing this, and I don’t want to be doing this. Why am I doing this?

It’s that same question I ask myself whenever I do something stupid, that I shouldn’t be doing–eating something that I know I’m going to pay for later, usually.

The exciting thing is this: I am getting better at listening to that little voice that whines, the one that wants to ruin all my fun. I resent the hell out of that squeaky bastard, and that is usually what has me breaking out the second handful of chocolate chips, pulling another cigarette out of the pack, ordering a third drink–chafing against that feeling of unfair, unfair, unfair that I hate so much. I thought I had gotten through that whole “life is unfair, so just suck it the fuck up” thing that you’re supposed to deal with when you are a teenager, but clearly not. Clearly, it still dogs me, and clearly, I still have work to do.

I’m doing the work. Life is unfair, and I’m trying to suck it up. Last night, I came home feeling vaguely sick after all the smoking, and I pulled down the bag of chocolate chips out of the cabinet, and I poured them into the toilet and flushed. This morning, I walked past the convenience store and I thought about veering right and asking for a big honking pack of delicious cigarettes to make me so happy and fulfill my life, but I kept walking and got a non-fat latte (14 grams of protein) instead. I did not order a muffin on the side. I am probably going to continue to eat things that are bad for me, on occasion–I never said that I was bright–but I am pretty sure that I am never going to smoke again. Possibly never. Almost assuredly. I am definitely sure that I will continue to think that life remains unfair, but eventually, I will get over myself. Probably.

  9 comments for “smoke, up in

  1. anon
    August 6, 2007 at 3:21 pm

    If you get over that, let me know how you do it.

    I still think life is unfair sometimes. Not every day. Some days I sail through, making healthy choices with ridiculous ease, not even slightly tempted by the bad stuff, practically floating on air with the Greatness that is Me.

    Then there are the days I whine and pout and stamp my feet because, damnit, it’s NOT FAIR that I can’t eat what I want when I want.

    Oh, and I smoked for ten years, then quit when I met my husband, and then ELEVEN YEARS LATER when I left him I went back to it. And it’s been over four years now, and I still smoke. Even though I run and I am adamant about fresh, healthy foods and anti-processed foods, etc.

    Hey, I never said I was smart either.

    So, good for you! May the Greatness that is You rub off on some of the rest of us.

  2. August 6, 2007 at 5:40 pm

    I’m thinking about possibly quitting smoking, maybe. Like you, I love smoking – lighting up, inhaling and feeling all of my stress/worry melt away, and seeing the smoke as I exhale it. I love the look of smoking. I love the feel of smoking. And I wish I didn’t have to give it up.

    I don’t want to quit, but I know I need to quit. It’s unhealthy, smells bad, and costs so much money. I don’t smoke too much (maybe 10 cigs a day, unless I’m drinking). I don’t smoke all day at school while I teach (those pesky anti-tobacco laws). The funny thing is, I don’t jones for one until I know I can have one. (After 4pm is a hard time).

    The main worry about quitting (besides the normal addiction withdrawal symptoms) is that I’m worried I’ll gain weight. I don’t want to start snacking just to have something in my mouth. I’ve just started on this weight loss path, and I want to keep the momentum building.

    Oy. It’s a really hard habit to break.

    But I know that

  3. Rivkeh
    August 6, 2007 at 6:11 pm

    Best of luck to everyone trying to quit. I smoked for 15 years and tried quitting countless times before succeeding last year – I haven’t smoked since Feb ’06. Just don’t beat yourself up when you have one. Just go back to not smoking, and if you’re a pack-a-day smoker, that’s 19 cigarettes you DIDN’T smoke that day. :-)

  4. August 6, 2007 at 8:51 pm

    Good luck to you! When I quit my pack-a-day habit, I used dum-dum suckers as my replacement item. That would probably be a bad idea for you, but maybe chewing on drinking straws would do the trick?

    Before I quit, for that last month that I continued to smoke, I thought continually about everything awful about smoking (while I was puffing). By the time my quit date actually arrived, I actually felt *relieved* to be done with it…

  5. August 6, 2007 at 9:08 pm

    Sweet lHoly God of all that is tobacco….you hit the nail on the head. I love to smoke. I love to take it out of the pack, tap it, light it with my latest, most bitchenest lighter, take that first big drag, and role my eyes in ecstasy. And then the sinus problems start, followed by sore throat, a mild cough that may or may not worsen into bronchitis causing me to lose my breathe walking to the bathroom…I don’t smoke, although I do reserve the right to have one in cases of EXTREME stress….like the day before my wedding or starting a new job….otherwise I do not smoke.

    And it does look cool: look at Bogart (who died of lung cancer), he was cool all the way to the grave. *sigh*

    If it wasn’t bad for me, I’d be smoking today. *sigh*

    Good for you.

    Jules

  6. KC
    August 6, 2007 at 10:17 pm

    one of my favorite lines from a play…

    You don’t have to smoke, but it’s better if you do. It lets people know that while you do need oral gratification, you don’t, necessarily, need it from them.

    Smoking is cool. When I was in college smoking was the modern equivalent of the victorian fan. I never would have gotten laid if not for the smoking.

    But last August I got a cold that prevented me from leaving the house and buying cigarettes, which was hard. But three days later when I felt better, I thought “maybe I won’t buy a pack today”

    In two weeks it will be a year since my last cigarette. Yay me. But I hate hate hate thinking that I’m ‘the type of girl’ who would never have a cigarette.

  7. August 7, 2007 at 12:12 am

    That’s why I sometimes would love to start smoking again. I’ve gotten over the taste, which makes me need to wash my mouth out now (unless I’m drinking) and I hate my hands stinking – but I love holding a cigarette, I love how sexy and confident I feel with one in my hand. I love how hot my husband looks when he smokes. Smoking, to me, will always seem cool even though it shouldn’t.

  8. K
    August 7, 2007 at 9:28 am

    Now, I’ve never smoked (never wanted to. Too scared, of burning myself among other things) but given how hard it is to give up other habits… that’s just as well. We all have something. Food, or coffee, or whatever.

    Go you, basically.

  9. August 13, 2007 at 7:58 am

    I had two pithy phrases that I returned to over and over when I quit smoking. I hear them in my head now when I start getting wistful for the role that smoking has played in my life.

    #1) Smokers are addicts.

    When ever I start building poetry out of the act of smoking, that heels me back to earth fast.

    #2) Cigarettes are not your friend.

    This would usually lead me back to #1.

    I don’t think that there is any bigger influence over how my life has been shaped than cigarettes. When I see young people walking down the street with them now, I want to chase after them and slap it out of their hands.

    You are awesome for putting the cigarette down, especially because I know it is still hard right now. All your neurotransmitters are still telling you that getting a hit would be awesome for everyone concerned. Don’t listen to them. Quitting really is worth it.

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