Posts Tagged ‘smoking’

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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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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seeing life at the bottom of a bottle and/or ashtray

I need to quit smoking again.

Last time I quit – January 2005 – I went cold turkey. Just decided it was time and that was that. It wasn’t easy – I was in a murderous rage for about three weeks – but I did it.

I’m usually pretty good at quitting things. Every project I start, every novel I begin, ever club I ever joined as a kid, I quit about halfway through. It’s so easy to just give up sometimes.

Did I mention I quit drinking? Aside from one drink I had the night of August 26th, 2006, I haven’t had a drink since last March. It wasn’t any real big event that prompted me to quit; it’s not like I sat myself down and said, self, you need to stop drinking. I guess my reasons for drinking were gone.

I wasn’t really a social drinker. I was one of those people who drank to get drunk. Who got drunk to get to the point of being able to shut off that part of my brain that did my thinking for me.

I told myself it was social.

A margarita during lunch is social. Having five shots of tequila with it is probably not. At least not during work lunchtime.

A martini after dinner is social. But when you give up on the martini glass, then give up on the vermouth, then just give up all together and drink the gin out of the bottle, it has stopped being social.

Gin is the ultimate “I hate my life” drink. Drinking cheap gin out of the bottle is akin to punishing yourself for something.

Let me tell you. It’s hard work spending your days pretending to have a life that you don’t. It’s taxing on the brain and the body and the soul to walk through life carrying a wheelbarrow full of lies around every day.

For most people, the solution would be to fix that. For me, the solution was to drown it. If you don’t think about it, it doesn’t exist! It’s like turning up the car radio when your engine is making a funky noise. Just mask the problem and it goes away.

At some point, that little spark that was still left in my brain alerted me to the fact that getting piss drunk every single night was probably not the best solution to the problem. The best solution, of course, would be getting rid of the problem.

And so another phase of my life began. Or ended, depending on your view.

I’m not going to fill in all the chunky little details that go between that revelation and March, 2006. Suffice it to say that the gin went down the drain along with a few other things. And you know the whole cliche about one door closing and another opening…or is that window? Either way, that’s what happened and here I am. Not drunk, not lying, not bitter, not weary and finding myself thinking quite often during the day, so this is how it feels to be happy? Well I’ll be damned.

Anyhow, as I was saying. I need to stop smoking.

Welcome to PMS week at ABV.

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