Posts Tagged ‘cigarettes’

smoke a cigarette and lie some more

Day 98 of 365: a year in songs and photos
Song: Stone Temple Pilots, Big Empty

I quit smoking a few months ago. Previous to that I had quit for three years. Previous to that, I had quit for 12 years. I’ve been smoking on and off since I’m 13. Smoke, quit, smoke, quit.

I’m smoking again. It started with one cigarette here and there. Because, as anyone who has smoked and quit will tell you, the cravings never go away. No matter how long you quit, it’s always there. You get that feeling that starts in the your mouth and then permeates every nerve ending in your body. Sometimes – most of the time – you can ride that feeling out. Sometimes, for those of us with obsessive personalities and little will power, you can’t.

The occasional cigarette turned into two or three a day. Then four or five. I’m up to six. Any day now, I’ll actually buy a whole pack instead of taking from Todd or a co-worker. Nobody likes a non-smoker who smokes. Because I’m a non-smoker, right? I don’t really smoke, I just…dabble.

I know how bad smoking is for you. I know how much it costs per year to smoke, especially in New York with the damn cigarette tax. I know it will make it hard for me to breathe when I take the stairs at work, I know I will have heart palpitations at night, I know I am probably shortening my life span, I know what it does to my lungs and heart and every other part of my body. And I know my kids will be furious with me if they find out. So I’ve taken to that age old habit of smoking behind the garage like a teenager. I don’t want to disappoint them. I’ve already disappointed me.

I’ve quit a lot of things in my life. A lot of vices that were very bad for me. Hell, I haven’t had a drink in almost two years. I’ve left behind in my youth a trail of various substance abuses. But nothing I’ve given up is as hard to give up as nicotine. It’s a drug. It’s an addiction. It’s one I will most likely never beat. Not with medication, not with gum, not with a patch. The two lengthiest bouts of non smoking I had were done cold turkey. I will quit again soon. And I will start again eventually. I’ve reconciled myself with that fact.

I lay in bed at night and silently yell at myself for starting again. I go through the laundry list of reasons I shouldn’t light up. I swear I’m done. And then the next day the need, the urge, the craving starts up and I’m a victim of my own weakness.

There’s a line in a favorite movie of mine, Dead Again. Robin Williams, in a bit role, says, metaphorically, “Someone is either a smoker or a nonsmoker. There’s no in-between. The trick is to find out which one you are, and be that.”

I know which one I am. The trick here is to NOT be that. The problem is, I don’t think I want to.

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art every day – 11/3/07

someday i will kill you 11/3

Day 3 of Art Every Day : Supersuckers – Someday I Will Kill You

That’s not what the song is about. But as it played on the car stereo as Todd lit up another cigarette, the two things combined gave me my photographic inspiration for the day.

I’m an ex-smoker a hundred times over. I’m not a militant ex-smoker, mostly because there are going to be times I’ll go back. I know this. It’s in my nature. So I’m not so much an ex-smoker as an inactive one.

Still, I see Todd lighting up his 25th cigarette of the day and I remember the sad look my kids would get when they saw me smoking and I think, damn it’s not nice to watch someone you love slowly kill themselves. And then I start jonesing for a cigarette.

I’ve quit a lot of things in my life and none have been so hard as getting off of nicotine. The withdrawals consume your life, your body, your mind, your soul. Smoking is Todd’s last vice. I’ve asked him to give it up, and he says he will on January 1st, but I know how much it is to ask of someone.

Cigarettes are evil, evil creatures. Just looking at this picture makes me want to run out and buy a pack of Marlboros and sit in my car, furtively chain smoking, deeply inhaling the tar and nicotine, knowing the whole time that the cigarettes have won again. Because each time you light one, it laughs a little bit and says:

Someday, I will kill you.

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tick tick tickin’ in my head

24 hours without a cigarette.

I have yet to kill a co-worker today. Or a hobo. But I really didn’t see any hobos and I can’t say what would have happened if I did. My co-workers are just lucky I have headphones and the entire Anthrax catalog to keep me from standing on my desk, screaming out random lyrics from “I’m The Man” and then dropping them all with lethal Glare O’ Death. I can shoot lasers out of my eyeballs, man! GET OUTTA MY WAY!

Oh yea. I have reached that phase of nicotine withdrawal where my mind tends to lose its already tenuous grip on sanity. Next come the hallucinations. “I swear officer, I thought he was a hobo.” It’s legal to kill hobos, right? Someone at work today said I was one candy short of a pinata. WhatEVER.

You know how easy it would be for me to right this very second reach not five inches in front of me and grab that pack of cigarettes I purposefully left there, pull out a smoke, light it, suck in and exhale deeply, with satisfaction? So easy. So very very very easy. So tempting.

But I am not a weak woman like Eve. I will not be tempted by your low hanging nicotine fruit.

I was going somewhere there. Something about Todd wearing nothing but a tobacco leaf around his waist.

Anyhow. I need to get back to work and hone my death-stare skills. Peace be with you. Unless you’re a hobo.

*i really have nothing against hobos. it’s just a funny word and i like saying it.

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One Cigarette Away*

one  cigarette away

Most of the photos I put here are 500px wide, and the blogger template cuts them off. So just click on them if you want to see the whole pic. Hey, you can check out my flickr page while you are there!

I took this photo on January 4th of this year. I wasn’t smoking then; the Camels were Todd’s. In fact, it was about a week before my two year no-smoking anniversary that I snapped this shot.

When I did some Photoshopping on it later that night, I realized I was craving a cigarette. That’s nothing unusual. Even after two years, the nicotine cravings still bite. The feeling that starts at the tip of your tongue, like a an electric buzz running through your mouth that you recognize like a neon light flashing the word SMOKE at you. It’s unmistakable. You ignore it for a while but then that same buzz takes over your body. It becomes more than physical. Your mind wants a cigarette. It wants to feel that slow exhale as you breathe out carcinogens. Your hands want the feel of the cigarette between your fingers. Your mouth wants that oral fixation.

Your lungs tell you no. Your heart tells you no. Your brain tells you no. Sometimes you listen to those voices. Sometimes the devil on your left shoulder wins out over the angel on your right. But sometimes it’s overwhelming.

I stared at the photo. I posted it on flickr that night and the first two comments were from people who said the picture made them want a cigarette. Are our minds so easily convinced or is that the will to smoke, the need to smoke never really leaves us?

I have an addictive personality. I’ve known that since I was about 13. It’s so easy for me to grasp onto something, whether it be a habit or a hobby, and fixate on it to the point of obsession. It’s so easy for me to pick up a cigarette after not smoking for two and a half years and go right back into it full swing.

I don’t know why I smoke. I know why I drank. I know why I swallowed a double dose of Paxil and Wellbutrin every day for a few years. I know why I engaged in a lot of the bad habits I picked up from my teenage years straight through to adulthood. But the smoking, there’s no emotional reason for it. There’s no mental breakdown that precedes it. I pick up a pack of cigarettes knowing full well what I am putting into my body and knowing full well what it can do to me.

I like smoking. I like the inhaling and exhaling. I like the first drag of a cigarette after going all day at work without one. I like the calm that comes over me as I quiet the parts of me that were screaming for a nicotine fix.

Quitting smoking is not like quitting anything else. I know people who beat a heroin addiction, people who beat alcoholism. And they say the same thing; quitting cigarettes is the hardest thing to do. I don’t know why that is. Maybe it’s mental. Maybe it’s physical. But I know it’s the hardest bad habit I ever had to get rid of.

And it keeps coming back again.

I didn’t pick up a cigarette that night I shot the photo. But I did the first week in April. That’s only two months I’ve been back to smoking. Two months. And I know I’m already at that place where throwing the smokes away will lead me to three weeks of intensity. Three weeks of full on lunatic mode. Three weeks of pacing and talking to myself. Long days looking for something to do with my hands because they are waiting for a box of cigarettes to pack against my palm, waiting to hold one, to light one, to flick the ashes. Three weeks of my mouth crawling with desperate nerve endings waiting for the smoke. Three weeks of jaw clenching, nail biting and listening to Husker Du’s Candy Apple Grey over and over again. Three weeks of waking up with my body set on vibrate.

I don’t know if my reluctance to quit is an avoidance of all that. I’m not sure if I crave cigarettes or if I crave an addiction. The mind and body work in weird ways together like that. They can really fuck with you when they work in tandem, especially when it’s the devil on your left working with them. I don’t know if people like me are wired that way to begin with or if things come along in our life that make us become this way. Not that it really matters.

Willfully engaging in destructive behavior is not something I’m proud of. Regardless of what scientific scenarios I can come up with to defend my addiction, I’m still shamed by it.

But shame never stopped me before.

I need a smoke.

*Well we’re one cigarette away from being done
One cigarette away, sure has been fun

Yeah we’re one cigarette away, gotta find some place to stay

Cause we’re one cigarette away from being done
One drink so quickly turns into another
It’s gonna to take me all day tomorrow to recover
Over has been hung, the last fag has been bummed
And we’re one cigarette away from being done


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