Cigarettes


I know this is hard to understand: But I still want a cigarette every time I smell one burning. Take tonight, for instance. I’m sitting on my screened-in back porch, enjoying the quiet night, my little white xmas lights are still up around the perimeter of the porch (4th time’s the charm?) (creating ambiance, doncha know) and the golf ball-size mosquitoes are asleep tonight.

What does all this have to do with cigarettes you ask? Well, nothing really, except that I just smelled my neighbor’s cigarette from 2 houses down. And it just smells so good.

I know, you’re about to gag, aren’t you.

It’s weird to me too, because every other time I’ve quit smoking, the smell has become absolutely repugnant. This time (5 years, 3 months and 3 weeks and 2 days, but who’s counting) it’s been different. I still want one whenever I smell one.

Actually, “want” might be too strong a word, since I am actually sometimes usually almost always satisfied by smelling it.

And I know it’s gross, and most people can’t even stand the smell of smoke. But it’s still appealing to me anyway.

Maybe this will help you understand me better: It’d be like deciding that for many reasons (health, cost, etc.) you decide to quit eating your <insert favorite food here>. You love this food, you have it whenever you can. You’re happier after you eat it. You can eat it any time, day or night. You can never have enough.

But you know you have to stop eating it because it is bad / will be bad / might be bad for you. And you know it’s the right choice and that you’ll be better off, blah blah blah. So you do stop.

Yet every time you smelled it, and you knew it was bad for you and that you wouldn’t have any (for today anyway, because you take it one day at a time because you know that “all or nothing” “I’ll never…” thinking is dangerous), even though all of that, it still made you salivate, it still held its power over you. It still attracted you.

Some days you’re tempted more than others. You think you can have it “just once” (you know better, though). Some days you’re okay with just smelling it, remembering how it used to taste. Some days you long for it, knowing that (for today anyway) you won’t have it. Some days other things, like stress or need for comfort make you want to run to it.

And some days you can just sit and smell and be okay with it. You remember all those things you loved about it, and know that it could all change tomorrow, but that for tonight at least, you’re okay with just smelling it…

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I am a recovering:

*shoe whore

*gadget-getter

*”drown my sorrows in material goods” kind of person

*smoker (5 years, 27 days but who’s counting)

*stickler for a clean house (you’d never guess that now, would you?)

*overall perfectionist (no comment)

*Ted-Drewes-aholic (OK, who am I kidding?! That’s a bald-faced lie. I’m only “in recovery” because they’re closed for the season.)

*a dog-not-carer-abouter

The world not being an “all or nothing” kind of world, I have been more successful in “maintaining recovery” in some of the above than in others.

Gadget-getting is a prime example: I still have the same TV I bought in 1990 and I don’t have cable, but am about to get my 34th cell phone, have two mp3 players that I seldom use and will have a 3rd one when I get my cool new phone next week.

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It’s been 5 years today that I quit smoking cigarettes.

Granted, just yesterday I chewed the plastic out of a coffee stirrer but it wasn’t a cigarette.

I always get a Ted Drewes “Oreo concrete extra Oreo” concrete on my “anniversary”* but they had the nerve to close for the season after yesterday (i.e.-when I really “need” them).

So not only did I have an anticipatory concrete on Friday, but The Man got us some last night for dessert.

Well, technically he got himself a concrete and me a kiddy hot fudge sundae and an “Oreo concrete extra Oreo” concrete, but I ate the hot fudge sundae last night (which was Sunday after all), and managed to decided to save the concrete for tonight.

Do you want to know how I did it? So do I.

I just take it one day at a time, remember how restarting the last time didn’t make me feel any better, and I eat a lot. And cry more easily. And honk and yell at other drivers a lot more (just like Emily!).

Anyone who’s been around me long enough knows that I still love how cigarettes smell when they’re being smoked. I’ll sometimes say “let’s have a cigarette” to a family member/friend, but that’s code for “you smoke and I’ll inhale.”

Yeah, I know it’s weird.

Especially because cigarette smoke repelled me all the other times I’ve quit. Go figure.

It’s the hardest relationship I’ve ever gotten out of. Like an abusive spouse it frequently begs me to take it back, but so far I’ve resisted.

Yay me!

*and no, you smart a__, my anniversary isn’t “almost every day” during their open season. The purpose of those concretes is “thirst quencher,” “cool me down”er, and/or “nutritional supplement.” That’s way different than this special anniversary version.

That title doesn’t look right. It’s not like it’s imperative you know these things right now; it’s more that I would like you to understand what’s going on in my head right now. Being the wordy person I am, it just came out that way and now I think I’m stuck with it.

I guess I could change it to (say) “Right now: what you need to know about me,” which sounds like every book that’s come on the market in the past 5 years. Have you noticed that? More and more have this format— “EXCITING TITLE <colon>: a really long explanation about what the book is actually about that’s rarely less than 2 clauses long.”

Anyway, back to my real point—me:

-I have either the plague or a cold. Remember how I said I hadn’t been eating well or sleeping enough? (See the last What you need to know about me right now). Yeah, well despite 2 whole nights in a row of 8 1/2—9 hours sleep I am sick. I am biserable.

-Ironically, today it’s 4 years 11 months since I quit smoking “to increase my health.” (That’s worked out well, hasn’t it?) I still managed to gulp down eat my anniversary Ted Drewes Concrete to also “increase the amount of fluids in my system” (Oreo extra Oreo, for those who want to bring me one on my death sick bed).

-Work is not easing up even though my cellmate cubemate and I were told that “things really quiet down in Dec.” We’re thinking they must mean it’s quiet on Dec. 25.

-I am 44 years old and my mother had to call me and “gently remind” me to return the RSVP to my uncle’s wedding. That is just beyond sad and lame on my part.

-For the last several dozen few years I’ve put something like this on RSVPs (when I finally do return them) under ‘number of guests’: “One, but I reserve the right to bring a husband/significant other should I find one between now and your event.” Well, how fun that I just returned an RSVP and didn’t have to include my standard note. NO I’m not married, but I am going with my sig ot.

-Why is it that I want to buy myself more presents right now instead of presents for others?! This happens every year. I can think of 50 things I want but have I started thinking about what others want? No, not so much.

And speaking of dying, which I just did: One of the nicest tributes you could get without dying first my friend S’s mother just died.

I think she was 89. If not, trust me I’ll hear about it from the beyond. She was an absolute trip.

She never lost her Boston accent (after ~60 years here?), she was loud (as the mother of ~8 had to be) and she told it like she saw it. Her opinion of you could change and then veer back the other way without you knowing why it had changed in the first place.

It takes one strong woman to get to 89. I’m just realizing and understanding more lately the sheer determination it takes to get to be that—or near that—age; just how much shit you have to go through, like it or not.

Anyway, my friend called to tell me and she had a classic Sally story. It points out some definite differences between her generation and mine, that’s for sure.

I’ve been dealing with (and—whoo!—enjoying) “inter-generational” stuff lately, so this caught me a little from that angle, but mostly from the story side:

She’s been under hospice care for a couple of months. She’s dying, she knows she’s dying, and knowing her she still smoked up a storm (and I say ‘You go girl!’). She was also in a great deal of pain.

And do you know that she wouldn’t take all the pain medication—did I say mention she was on her death bed??—because she didn’t want to “get addicted“?!

Just let that sink in for a moment. That just cracks me up no end. It reflects some inter-generational differences fore sure, but more significantly, is all Sally.

I hope she’s now happy with her sons and husband and is queen of the world again.

Today’s travel summary: I could sum it up by saying, “I GOT somewhere!” but that’d make for some boring reading. The best part of this day has been the past couple of hours, since arriving at the (ahem) Evansville, IN Super 8 Motel. As lame as that sounds, I don’t care; I’m just so relieved to GET somewhere, however not-far-as-I-wanted-to-get-today. 

And why has the past couple of hours been so great you might ask? Well, I’m in my pj’s, on the bed, and have been watching HGTV for 2 hours now. It’s the longest I’ve ever spent watching it, after having threatened to invade countless people’s homes. I was so tired when I got here, yet now (while still tired) I could just watch all night.  

This turned out to be an intense day. After having what little plan I had waylaid by a couple of things, I finally got on the road at almost 2pm, 2 hours past my “target” time. No biggie on that; the sad part started when I got downtown to get onto the bridge over to IL—a traffic jam that I sat in for approx. 64 minutes, give or take, and when I finally got to the bridge there were 2 cop cars blocking the way.

Now why they couldn’t have used the solar powered sign a ½ mile back to note that the bridge was closed is beyond me; but after spending an hour having people trying to cut ahead of me, I found myself in the wrong lane, wondering where to go! So I ended up taking an alternate way (which involved going north, then west, then south, then east) , which was not traffic-y at all, and started to unwind once I put on some music (thanks GN—what an obvious idea I didn’t think of!).

I-64 has so much more character than I-55, which I memorized over many years (not hard since it’s flat, plain and boring). But I-64 has hills and farmland and rivers and swamps and banks of trees that surround you. There was a lot to look at, including the Simpsons-like clouds in the sky.  

When I started fizzing out beautiful Evansville (and its several motel signs) beckoned. Checked in, started indulging myself w/HGTV (with a pause to walk to p/u a carryout from Denny’s with its COOL silver retro-diner style), and am now off to fall asleep to the inspiring sounds of HGTV.  

PS: It’s been 4 years and 3 months today since I quit cigarettes. Sigh. I look forward to the day when I quit counting.  

Today’s game: license plates

IL, KS, NC, SC, TX, GA (sorry but they’re the WORST drivers so far), FL (2nd worst), Ontario, WY, CA, WI, MN, OH, PA, KY, TN, NY, NJ, AL, ND, SD, NE