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Week Two

10/09/00 - 7:30 AM

No entry yesterday, the first day of Week Two (Heck Week). Just not that much to say, plus I was busy just getting through my first full weekend as an ex-smoker.

Current #s?: Smoke free for one week, one day, 7 hours, 25 minutes and 11 seconds. 290 cigarettes not smoked, saving $58.16. Life saved: 1 day, 10 minutes.

I'm slowly coming to terms with what it means to be an ex-smoker. The obvious positive aspects all have to do with health and personal hygiene in one way or another. They are great, but boring...maybe I'll live longer, for sure I'll feel better (already do), and I won't smell bad all the time (you tell me...). See? Boring.

More interesting, at least to me, is what being an ex-smoker brings one that can't be immediately qualified as good or bad. When you smoke, your day is punctuated regularly by habit/addiction feeding behavior. You grant yourself permission to stop working at regular intervals. You have access, at any time, to a legal and phenomenally effective drug and drug delivery system...Want to concentrate? Have a smoke. Want to calm down? Have a smoke. Want to take a break and stare into space for 5-7 minutes? Have a smoke. Feel bad? Have a smoke. Feel great? Have a smoke. Endlessly. Until one day it ends... And there is nothing that can replace it.

The reason that it may be harder to quit smoking than it is to quit heroin isn't at all that nicotine is more addictive than smack, or that withdrawal is worse. Those "facts" may be comforting conceits to people living in a culture awash in fuzzy boo-hoo-I'm-a-victim thinking, and may even be handy for generating pride in kicking cigarettes. They aren't true, but I can see their usefulness.

What is true is that if I'm at work, it just plain isn't acceptable at all, to anyone, for me to take a break, walk out and shoot smack in the doorway. Or snort coke off my desk. Or even continuously slam shots of Cuervo in front of people that are depending on me. Even though any of those activities may make me feel better, if I'm going to engage in them I have to hide. From my employer, and probably from my co-workers. Possibly from my friends and family too, as long as I can...

But smoking? First, even if you are a closet smoker, trust me...everyone knows. You reek. Non- or ex-smokers are only being polite if they engage in your pathetic little hiding game with you. So smoking is open & semi-acceptable drug use...you may not be able to smoke in some places, like at your desk or at your table in any nice restaurant...but close by is a sanctuary where you can smoke...a bar, a doorway, a bench. There you'll usually find other smokers to validate you...puffing away & grinning ruefully about how put upon y'all are by modern times.

I miss it. How idiotic is that? I don't ever get to do it again, but I miss it. Therein lies both the danger & the real addiction.

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10/11/00 -- 1:45 PM

I am amazed and gratified by plus grateful for the phone calls and email I get when I skip a day in this WebLog. Thanks!

Here's the deal: I swear, if for some reason I slip even once, cheat at all, or start smoking again, I'll put that up in an entry here immediately. Part of the reason for this WebLog is to leave myself open to the intense public humiliation that will result if I do fall flat on my face. Believe me, the fear of that public humiliation has stopped me from driving to Circle K a couple of times already, and I'm only 11 days into this quit. I'm not exactly the poster boy for Self Discipline (as more than a few of you reading this know far too well), so I need as many barriers as I can possibly set up in between me and Abdul, the Circle K clerk. Speaking of Abdul, this is what he said to me yesterday, when I ducked in for some bottled water and a hot dog (Hold the bun...I am *so* boring these days): "Hey, Mr. Worthington, we've missed you! We got those Player Lights in for you! How many packs?" See, it would be a lot easier to quit if I had to go to a motorcycle gang's headquarters down on the Duwamish River in Allentown and risk my life to score cigarettes. Don't get me wrong, if I still smoked, I'd do it in a heartbeat. "Gimme a couple of cartons of Camel Lights, Big Tiny...and please God, don't beat me to death with that pool cue...I swear I wasn't thinking anything when I looked over at your old lady. I've just never seen a dog collar that color. It's nice."

Abdul was deeply disappointed that I wouldn't be buying cigarettes from him anymore, but did begrudgingly wish me well as he lit up a smoke and stared at me balefully through the fog.

Current #s? Thanks for asking: Not a single puff for one week, three days, 13 hours, 21 minutes and 51 seconds, not that I'm cognizant of the passage of time, you understand. 369 cigarettes not smoked, saving $73.89 to spend on cheap mystery novels, if I'm ever smart enough to actually read anything again. Life saved: 1 day, 6 hours, 45 minutes...which is all well and good, except that I am beginning to realize that I get them at the other end of life, when I'm really old, eating strained peas and not really caring if I ever get laid again or not. It's not like I get days, hours & minutes of being 18 or 22 or even 40. Oh, what the hell, I'll take them anyway.

Other info: My sleep patterns are starting to settle down. I'm starting to get a hacking cough as the cilia in my lungs are not being burned off and buried in tar every 20 minutes. Apparently they start waving around and the cough is a good thing. Right. Supposedly it can last for months. I'm still oozing poisonous toxins...trust me, you don't want to know any more about that.

Until the next update, thank you for your kind attention.

Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.  --H. L. Mencken

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10/15/00

Well, this isn't Week Two, it's Week Three...Go here!

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