Live From The Grayish Carpet

Life on the Other Side of Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll

Cigarettes, Alcohol and Everything Else

Cigarettesandalcohol1983 Cigarettes and alcohol, 1983 (Photo by Katy Lyle used w/o permission) 

I didn’t plan to quit smoking.   I planned to go get another pack of cigarettes when I was down to my last five American Spirits.  But last Friday, when I ran out of cigarettes, I decided not to get any more.

I thought I was halfassing it  the way I halfass everything.   But just after I cleaned out the tree-sized  planter that has served as my overflowing ashtray for the last two years, I posted on Facebook.  “I’ve now been smoke free for 14 minutes,” I wrote.  “This is the longest I’ve gone without a cigarette since 1983.”   My friends, as always, showed up strong.  They wrote about how and why they quit smoking, and left uncharacteristic messages more supportive than snarky.   And once I outed myself I knew that I had to at least try to stop smoking, which is more than I’ve done, ever.

It wasn’t entirely out of the blue; I’ve been hit with gotta-stop thoughts for weeks.   It started with a line in a Dan Chaon story about a guy dying of cancer. “The cigarettes kept their promise,” he wrote, and it stayed with me. I  heard it over and over in my head  right up until it was replaced by the sound of a 5-year-old asshole on the 3rd Street Promenade who pointed at me and  yelled  “Smoking is for bad and you are dumb.”

I bought cigarettes at the 76 up the street on Wednesday and for the first time noticed that spending $8 every day on cigarettes ranks right up there on the stupid scale with say, SMOKING them.  Then last week the new and improved object of my  affection told me that he lived in a non-smoking building in a town where smoking was actually illegal.

I didn’t quit because it meant that I couldn’t hang out there.  I quit because I thought about how many places I haven’t gone over the years because it would limit my ability to chain-smoke, and the places I’ve gone because it hasn’t.  Like casinos in Las Vegas, Palm Springs, Lake Tahoe, Sydney,  Amsterdam, Niagra Falls, Tokyo, Reno, Atlantic City and New Orleans.

Wait. Wait.

That bit about casinos is not true.  I didn’t go  to casinos because I loved smoking, I went to casinos because I loved to gamble, and gambling is just another entry on a long list of shit I’ve had to stop doing.  I quit overeating, starving, shopping compulsively, and the one-night company of inappropriate men.  I quit drinks, blow, weed, pharmaceuticals, and heroin.  All of those I enjoyed to the last. I haven’t enjoyed smoking for years.

Former junkies and reformed smokers say that the cigarette kick is harder than the dope kick.  They are wrong.  Physically, tobacco withdrawal is a party compared to opiate withdrawal, and there’s nicotine gum, patches, and mints to soothe the ride.  Also, opiate withdrawal was never as bad as I pretend it was — I remember it as brutal because it helps me to believe that I’ve actually accomplished more than managing not to run out of cigarettes every day for the last 35 years.  (Yesterday my friend Beth told me that quitting nicotine replacement products was harder than quitting nicotine of the light-er-up variety.  I looked at her incredulously, wondering if she was aware of how agitated I am or how poor my impulse control can be.)

I’ve lived most of my life in between smokes.  I smoked when I got out of bed in the morning, with coffee, and before and after breakfast.  I smoked to mark my last morning smoke, and then smoked again. I smoked when I left my apartment and when I arrived at my destination, and then left destinations because I needed a smoke.  The only time I didn’t smoke was when I ran out of cigarettes, which, as previously noted, hasn’t happened in 35 years.

I’m just riffing.  I needed to practice writing without smokes. Thanks for indulging me.

I know it’s gonna get hard.  I’ll be back.

Day five.  Here goes.

 

Cigarettes and alcohol, 1994

 

 

20 comments on “Cigarettes, Alcohol and Everything Else

  1. Sarah Stierch
    July 27, 2016

    Liked by 1 person

  2. peterrauh
    July 27, 2016

    Congrats on Day Five! And a great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hillary Bratton
    July 27, 2016

    Quitting smoking is the best thing you can do for your skin, bar none. I usually see the difference on people’s faces almost immediately. Allen Carr’s book “The Easy Way to Quit Smoking” is really helpful, gives you a different perspective on the withdrawal process.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Julie Farman
      July 28, 2016

      I will find it. Definitely ready for a different perspective right about now. Thank you!

      Like

  4. Julie Farman
    July 27, 2016

    Shit. Facebook and now my blog. I have no choice. (Thanks you guys.)

    Like

  5. Jennet Cook
    July 27, 2016

    Keep it up! i quit 10 years ago. it gets easier over time.

    Like

  6. Sullivan, Nancy
    July 27, 2016

    God, I love you!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Versa B Manos
    July 27, 2016

    You’ll be beaming all over social media! The line “cigarettes kept their promise, gave me the chills. Proud of you woman!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. mcbeth97
    July 27, 2016

    Friend Beth here…yea, maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned that part about kicking Nicorette…but to be clear, that was not MY experience but another friend’s…and she tends toward hyperbole so just chew all the gum you need! you’ve got this

    Liked by 1 person

    • Julie Farman
      July 27, 2016

      No, thank you, gave me a punch line! All about the punch lines. And SO good to see you!

      Like

  9. MyDailyMinefield
    July 27, 2016

    I think you are pretty darn awesome!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Julie Farman
      July 27, 2016

      Those are some big words coming from you, MyDailyMinefield! Thank you!

      Like

  10. Kelley Lavin Whitten
    July 27, 2016

    Supporting you from the other coast! You should feel very proud of yourself already!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Cristina
    August 17, 2016

    I quit twice before. Then I feel empowered that I’m in control and make myself believe I can be a social smoker, just at parties and things like that. Never worked. Been thinking about quiting again. This time for good. Well done you!

    Like

  12. chacawila
    September 25, 2016

    Permission granted. But I like the tagline. Until I read this I had forgotten the surprise I felt at how not smoking changed my social patterns. Most memorable, longer conversations with non-smokers during which I was actually at ease… and thought “damn, this is cool” like it was a superpower or something. Since smokes cost 2.50 when I quit, I will simply note that a cold dripping sensation in the stomach led me to think of cancer too. Deciding that it was time to quit soon followed. Getting out a cigarette when I already had one lit – and possibly very near my head at the time – that was just funny – gave me no clue.

    Like

  13. John Francis
    February 14, 2017

    Of all the people who I’ve ever known to quit, you’re by far the most inspiring to me! I’m sure you know why > but knowing I get to actually see you in person soon, I’m debating if I need to do it cold turkey or not, I’d rather suffer along with you rather than lead you into ‘any kind’ of temptation > unless we’ll again you know why… So proud of you & you know why…

    Like

  14. vimanga
    September 18, 2017

    I just found this post and I love it. I’m currently on day 6 of my current attempt to stop smoking and that’s the longest I’ve gone without smoking in 8 months.

    Like

    • Julie Farman
      September 19, 2017

      Thank you and congrats! I hope you’re on Day 9. (I highly recommend nicotine gum, although I’m having a hard time laying off of it.)

      Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on July 27, 2016 by in Life and tagged , , .
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