Thursday, April 2, 2009-
Day two of stopping smoking: Yesterday went surprisingly well, I mean for a nightmare, that is.
I didn’t mention in my first piece that I decided that the best time to stop smoking is while I’m building a house, starting a new business and writing a book at the same time as trying to get my taxes done, sell four houses that are one thousand, five hundred miles away and sharing the rental house I’m living in with a bi-polar and a paranoid schizophrenic. They say the most important thing to do when you’ve decided to quit is set yourself up for success, but I’m not sure They know what They’re talking about. They also once told me I’d go blind if I diddled myself too much. You know, They really can be assholes sometimes. Anyway, I think that in order to stop successfully, you gotta set yourself up for failure.
I mean, think about it- true, there are less and less smokers and smoke friendly environments these days to deal with, so it’s not as difficult to avoid them as it was during, say, World War II, but there’s still always gonna be the guy in the car next to you, the receptionist sneaking out on the sidewalk from her office for a quick smoke break as you walk past, the arsonist who uses a Marlboro as a three and a half minute time delay fuse…in short, every day you’re going to come across smokers and/or smoking triggers. So I’m not trying to, as all the pious, self righteous literature advises, avoid any of these things.
I smoked my last official cigarette at 11:45 PM on March 31st. Then I threw the rest of the pack in the garbage can next to my bed and went to sleep. I left the ashtray with the butt on my nightstand as well as the one on my patio table. I did take the lighter out of my pocket yesterday and threw it in my Jeep’s console, but only because I didn’t need to carry it. There’s still my unopened ’emergency’ pack of cigarettes stuffed way down in that console somewhere, I guess; I didn’t actually check…it takes forever to get everything back i there once you start pulling it out. I did add a small bag of crushed potato chips in there to avoid the need of opening the pack in case I needed an arson-related fuse- gram for gram, potato chips are the most reliably flammable substance on Earth.
Of course, my wife woke up and bitched about the ashtrays and such so I had to empty them and throw them away. They were only empty tuna fish cans anyway, so no big deal. I plan to keep the real ashtrays forever; they’re becoming antiques. Anyway, I didn’t smoke all day…I wanted to about a dozen times of course- while I was writing a letter to the County explaining why their fee system was unfair and possibly illegal, at the restaurant while the bi-polar was going through an aggressive episode of…bi-polarism… and especially while writing the book. I tend to smoke like a chimney when I write.
Aside from the ashtray thing, my wife and I didn’t mention quitting to give each other moral support. We aren’t telling anyone we’re quitting either (I’m talking about it here of course, but that’s because I know that no one actually ever reads my stuff, so it doesn’t matter) and the only stressor we’re trying to avoid are those stupid TV commercials telling us how bad cigarettes are for us. Nothing makes me want to do something more than people telling me I shouldn’t.
So between the nicotine patch and the duct tape I had covering my mouth, I managed to get through the day smoke free. Still, I have to admit I did the weirdest thing. At 11:45PM last night, twenty four hours to the minute after I smoked my last ‘official’ cigarette and for no reason at all, I walked outside and had a smoke. I didn’t crave one at that moment, didn’t even really want it at all, nor did I particularly enjoy it while I smoked it. I was just being contrary.
It’s like when I decided fifteen years ago that it was time to stop drinking I didn’t stop drinking completely, like AA higher power never touch alcohol again stop drinking; that would’ve been admitting I had no self control. I just kinda stopped because I realized that even after as little as two or three beers, people get noticeably stupider and it was becoming annoying. Now, during an average year, I may have a couple of glasses of champagne at New Years and go through maybe one or two six packs during the course of a summer. I even had two shots of vodka one night last October while watching a movie about Russia. It’s like dieting; you can’t swear off food, you just have to not let your impulses control you. My wife still has a drink or two in front of me in restaurants and such. I just chose not to.
So I’m not ‘quitting’ smoking, I’m ‘choosing not to’ smoke. It’s a subtle difference, but to me a critical one. It puts the control in my hands, not the cigarette’s. What I am ‘quitting’ is sugars and fats. I don’t want to gain weight. I’d rather smoke than get fat. Fuck a bunch of diabetes and double chins. I’m taking vitamins though, on the general theory that they can’t hurt and might even help in some unexplained way.
So, that was day one. Today I’m gonna try and fix a broken forty five year old backhoe with a guy who smokes. A lot. We’ll be alone in the middle of a ten acre piece of property, skinning our knuckles and getting all greasy, something I really hate. See, you just can’t avoid it, you’ve got to just deal with it.