Tag Archives: death

The Chimney Stack Will Puff No More

25 Feb

Quitting Smoking Is Hard You Guys… and Cancer.

That's hot.

So I’ve been a smoker for the past five or six years of my life. I started young, four years old, when I reached in an ashtray at a restaurant (back in the day when they still had those) and took a puff of some old woman’s used cigarette. My mom slapped me silly, but I obviously didn’t learn because I became a regular smoker when I was either fourteen or fifteen. I started out on about half a pack a week and kept it there for a few years mostly because of high school and fear of my parents. When I hit college, joined roller derby, and got into a tight punk rock scene, my occasional smoking habit almost overnight became crippling. I’ve been up to at least a pack a day for the past year and a half, and at the ripe age of twenty-something, I’m already feeling the bad effects.

I’m quitting as of two hours ago, spurred by chest pains, wheezing, and the realization that a $400 paycheck is almost 1/4 of the way spent after a week.

Self-Portrait.

In keeping with my “blog” writing, I feel like it’s important (to me) to make a list of why I smoke and why it’s so hard to quit. It’s not even for the more obvious reasons such as stress (although that’s there too), but read on.

Why I Smoke(d)/How to Use These Reasons to Quit:

1. I have an addictive personality.

I also am addicted to spoons full of sugar and getting vaccinated.

Why: I should have known better than to start in the first place. Just like Facebook and eating gummy snacks, I get a taste of something I like and I want MORE. Even with more illicit drugs that are not physically addicting, I would become emotionally dependent. I start to use my (formerly) social habits as a more personal crutch of support. “Two tests and three art projects due tomorrow? Lemme just smoke/drink (substance of choice) for (unnecessary) amount of time and then I’ll be more motivated/inspired/calmed/stoned/nic-buzzed (pick three) than before and I’ll do more in less time!” Not really. I usually just end up whittling away a few hours taking “breaks” every ten minutes and then falling asleep or watching TV.

Manipulate To My Advantage By: Finding other things to get addicted to. I used to be addicted to skateboarding; the cruel catch-22 is that I can’t skate nearly on the level I used to because I smoke, and I smoke now because I can’t skate that well anymore. I mull around at my old spots cruising around on my board with a cigarette dangling out of my mouth instead of charging at it and pushing myself. Land a half-cab? Smoke a cigarette. Used to, I’d land something, get stoked, and work on it for another hour until I had it down. I should probably get back into *this* habit, along with lots of other activities I used to enjoy, such as vandalism, computer hacking, urban spelunking (going into locked/out of the way places), NERF guns, hipster stalking, photography, etc. In a way, I lost my lifestyle because of smoking. My friend and I joke that before we leave the house, we smoke a couple. We smoke two more on the way. We smoke on the way in. On the way out. Two more in the car to the next place… I don’t have time in between driving and smoking to do what I usually plan on doing. I also take three hours to go get coffee.

And another two hours to drink it.

I re-kindled my love for skateboarding today (the same day I chose to quit) thanks to me finally finding a copy of a magazine I used to enjoy that Barnes and Nobles stopped carrying. I read the whole thing cover to cover and nearly cried out of my lost love for the sport/hobby/lifestyle that saved my life on more than one occasion during my harder years. I realized that any skating I do now is strictly to get out of my house so I can go smoke. Two weekends ago, I went with a friend out onto a golf-course and we bombed and carved the golf-cart roads. For four hours. No cigarettes, nothing. It was a return to that almost profound feeling of freedom and unbridled exploration; that’s what I want back. So. The plan is to go out and skate every single damn time I’m sitting inside craving. Even at two in the morning.

2. I want(ed) to be cool. I’m still cool, I guess.

He'd be the ultimate cool if he was smoking.

Why: Yes. No matter how much I was told “smoking isn’t cool” growing up, IT IS. IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN AND WILL ALWAYS BE WHAT THE COOL KIDS ARE DOING. People treat you differently. I look like a fifteen year old boy, unless I have a cigarette hanging out of my mouth and I’m not giggling with delight at breaking the law. Smoking completes my “image.” Which is lame, yes, but I still think like a middle schooler. What I said earlier about losing my lifestyle? Yeah. Band practices don’t go well cause we have to have smoke breaks every twenty minutes. Being in/around punk music is what got me into smoking in the first place. It’s an association game. I think “punk show” = “place to smoke lots of cigarettes and not look out of place.” Of course, now I think “church”= “place to go outside on the playground during the praying parts and smoke lots of cigarettes and get lots of bad looks.” I like the attention. What I don’t like is realizing that I had just as much fun at shows and at after-parties when I wasn’t smoking, and really? NO ONE THOUGHT LESS OF ME. But my mind rationalizes this into Smoker-Language: “We are going to a Hangouts show tonight. We used to not smoke at their shows at all and mosh around and get in fights. Now we smoke because WE HAVE TO. WE ARE THERE AND WE HAVE TO. So we’ll stand off to the side and smoke a pack and a half in an hour and have a ‘good time.'” It’s hard to explain unless you’ve been there. The smoker’s brain won’t let one remember that stuff can be just as enjoyable without a cigarette or twenty. It automatically snaps into making the equation: social situation = smoking. And that’s the danger.

Manipulate To My Advantage By: Really, there’s no easy way around the social associations with smoking. I can’t give up small bars and derby bouts, nor can I avoid my friends who are almost all smokers. However, I can take the pompous douchebag route. For example: at the skatepark, inevitably some sixteen year old kid will offer me a cigarette because he wants to look cool and wants everyone to know he smokes (just like I used to do). I can say “No thanks man. I just quit after five years and I feel FANTASTIC. You, however, are going to have tumors within tumors in every pore and cell in your body. And you look like Justin Bieber.” While some might say “Wait, you smoked. You’ll have tumors inside of tumors too. And YOU look like Justin Bieber.” To which I reply, “I am superior because I quit. I’m better than you, stick your head in doo doo. And I do NOT look like Justin Bieber. At least not since I shaved my head into a mohawk.” Honestly, it’s about realizing and remembering that I am not a smoker. It isn’t a persona, it is a habit, like licking my lips like a crackhead. I am also not a crackhead. And I will probably have really chapped lips in the first couple of weeks now that I’m quitting.

3. Being gay is stressful, two reasons rolled into one.

Why: My main rationalization for smoking outside of social settings (which with my job and school and family life are less frequent than they used to be) is stress. There is a mental habit involved in smoking that contributes to stress; it isn’t physical at all. Ties into the “emotional crutch” part about having an addictive personality. Except this is conditioning through outside influences. See that chick smoking on TV? She’s probably in a stressful situation. Smokers get sold on the fact that smoking relieves stress. Being stressed = needing a cigarette; in reality it’s a very strong “want.” So like clockwork every day at my job, I have smoke breaks after the “peak” hours which happen about five times a day, six or seven on Mondays. Most of the time I get halfway through my cancer stick and realize I wasn’t actually that stressed. I just thought I was so I could have an excuse. The mental habit caused by smoking is what makes it really hard to quit; another aspect of this for me personally is the “oral fixation.” Make all the gay jokes you want, but that’s where queer comes into the factor. There is scientific support (that I’m too lazy to Google) to back up the idea that gay people, in proportion to our respective population, are more likely to be smokers.

Pictured: Typical Gay Mouth.

I know myself that I am a very mouth-oriented person. I chew on everything, including but not limited to my lips/lip rings (when I have them in, I got them for the purpose of messing with them and because I look incredibly hot with a labret), cheeks, pens, paper clips, straws, cups, glasses, gum, my girlfriend (cough)… This has led to not only a bad case of TMJ that I get to wear a mouthguard at night for, but also a reliance on smoking as another oral fixation. One time I found a NERF dart in my car. First thing I did? Stuck it in my mouth like a cigarette and reached for the lighter. I kid you not. I felt ridiculous. Just like I do when I catch myself holding a sucker or pen like a cigarette, puffing on a BIC ballpoint like it’s seen the end of a BIC lighter. So being gay and using my mouth as my main sexual expression made me a smoker. There’s all sorts of subconscious connections I could make but I’ll spare you that. I will point you to a favorite blog of mine that looks at this specific topic: http://effingdykes.blogspot.com/2010/11/lighting-up-night.html

Manipulate To My Advantage By: Well, simpler than #2. Buy lots and lots of suckers. And candy. And toothpicks. So I can get cavities and look like a country hick all day. But I kinda feel like all of these options are at least tastier than cigarettes. Even toothpicks. I’d rather chomp on a wood splinter than have cigarette/coffee/Adderall aftertaste. And have more sex. That’s something at least one other person in my life will fully support (and it’s not my mom).

So follow along and wait in rapt anticipation for updated posts which will probably include lots more capital letters and a lot less coherency.

That's me.