9.8.12

LAURA JANE'S QUITTING SMOKING JOURNALS: Week 1


BY LAURA JANE (ILLUSTRATION BY JEN)

I spend a lot of my time thinking about a version of myself who will never exist. She is 42 and pale, lying in a bed, dying of lung cancer. Her lungs hurt and she can't breathe. She’s sad about how she’s dying, or maybe she’s mad at herself for letting herself die like this, and she spends a lot of her time thinking about a version of myself who never existed: the me who decided to bet it all against smoking. The me who will never quit. 
         I wish I could bet it all against smoking and know for sure I’d win big. I don’t want anyone to think I’m quitting smoking because I don’t love smoking: I’m not; I do. Some smokers quit because they start hating smoking, or at least they say they do: they resent the coughing and the judgment and the money, but I don’t believe I’d ever get there. “I’d rather cough and smoke,” I’ve always said, “And I don’t give a fuck about other people,” “It’s money well spent!”- I just don't want to die. I’ve spent my whole twenties claiming I’ll quit smoking when I turn thirty, that my thirtieth birthday present to myself will be “not dying of lung cancer.” But at the beginning of summer, my dad told me a thing you can do. I told I’m so scared of dying of lung cancer, and he told me, “Don’t be scared of lung cancer! Lung cancer kills you fast and then you die. Emphysema’s what you really need to be scared of.”
         A person can live with emphysema for like twenty fucking years, and if you want to do know what those twenty unfuckingbearable years of your life will feel like, here’s what you do: 

 Put a drinking straw in your mouth, and plug your nose. Now walk across a room. 

I think that every person reading this who smokes should stop reading and go do that right now, because doing that made me realize that I don’t want to wait until I’m thirty. It made me realize that there is something in the world worse than dying.







I'm quitting smoking on October 1st, because October 1st is as far away as you can get from the beginning of next summer, and summer is what fucks you. I quit smoking for almost four months two years ago, and summer was what fucked me. Summer, and this picture of John Lennon:













But I don't care, I don't care about that picture of John Lennon anymore. There is nothing I can do to make it so that John Lennon doesn't look cool in that picture of John Lennon smoking. And I have to give up on this, the idea of this: 


It's flawed logic. Joe Strummer died of a congenital heart defect when he was 49, and so I tell myself- he probably would've regretted it if he'd quit smoking and then found out he was going to die so young anyway, or what if you quit smoking and then died in a plane crash eight weeks later, which is, in my opinion, the best argument in the world against quitting smoking. But when you flip it around, this argument becomes: the only reason to smoke is because you assume you're going to die young. And I would never assume that! I don't want to die young; I want to die old. 

It's all weird bullshit I've contrived to spare myself the hassle of quitting smoking but I'm done with both smoking and contriving bullshit and I'm not allowing myself to believe in it anymore. And I really doubt that if I were in the middle of dying in a plane crash I'd be thinking of fucking cigarettes as the plane went down- and if I was, my life meant nothing; I deserve to die.

__

I smoke for three reasons: 

1) fidgetiness-indulgence 

2) coolness-enhancement
3) boredom-alleviation

And these reasons are what I'm looking to destroy. I generally smoke a little less than a pack of cigarettes a day; in Canada, there are twenty-five cigarettes to a pack. Sometimes I smoke more, often I smoke less. So I think it’s fair to say that, on average, I smoke about eighteen to twenty cigarettes per day. I have decided to incrementally reduce the amount of cigarettes I smoke per day over the course of the next two months. I know people say that cold turkey is the only thing that works, but fuck those people; I’m not them. I’m goal-oriented, and function best when I’ve got a game plan.

MY PRE-QUITTING SMOKING GAME PLAN: 

Week 1 (August 1st- August 7th, 2012)- 15 cigs per day 
Week 2 (August 8th- August 14th, 2012)- 13 cigs per day 
Week 3 (August 15th- August 21st, 2012)- 11 cigs per day 
Week 4 (August 22nd- August 28th, 2012)- 9 cigs per day 
Week 5 (August 29th- September 4th, 2012)- 7 cigs per day 
Week 6 (September 5th- September 11th, 2012) 6 cigs per day 
Week 7 (September 12th- September 18th, 2012) 5 cigs per day
Week 8 (September 19th- September 25th, 2012) 3 cigs per day 
“Week” 9: (September 26th, 2012- September 30th, 2012) 2 cigs per day (This week lasts 5 days because months are strange lengths)
“Week” 10: (FOREVER!!! THE ETERNAL MONTH!!!) 0 cigs per day! 

As follows is the tale of Week 1. 

DAY 1 (August 1st, 2012) 

I bought myself a box of toothpicks on July 31st. Toothpicks are a major part of my quitting smoking game plan, because they address the two most significant facets of my dependence on cigarettes: 1) oral fixation, and 2) coolness. 

Coolness is huge for me and I'm not going to front like that's not the case because ew who the fuck would I be if I did. I’ve always thought smoking is cool- I remember being a little kid at daycare and gazing at teenage punks smoking across our playground and loving them for it, understanding that one day I’d be one of them, one of those intoxicatingly sexy human beings who feels compelled to light thin cylinders of woodchips on fire and then suck on them for kicks. In life, I'm only really great at two things: one of them's writing, and the other's being cool; maybe it's all in my head but I attribute a great deal of the coolness I've grown accustomed to coasting on to smoking cigarettes. I've always known how to make smoking work in my aesthetic favor. I do things like take a drag of cigarette before kissing a dude and then after kissing him I exhale and it's hot. I do a lot of sitting around and smoking boredly and it's my thing and it gives me confident. Leave mean comments telling me how shallow I am if you want but ew. 

It’s obvious that I'll only be able to successfully quit smoking if I can replace it with something that makes me feel equally cool. I chose toothpicks, because




I don't know I guess I'm just a person who functions to the best of my ability when I've got a thing hanging out the side of my mouth.

Day 1 was pretty easy. In the morning I challenged myself by walking home from the other side of the city- it took me about two hours, in total- without once lighting a cigarette, and I did it. I'm a man with a plan and I felt like if I fucked up that walk I'd fuck the whole thing up and might as well not even bother. 


I'm obsessed with rationing my cigarettes, so that's neat; it's nice to have something to be obsessed with. I've been feeling pretty dead inside lately. 

I'm learning it's easy to avoid smoking during the day because you have things to do, but night is the hard part, especially nights when I go out. If I'm drinking on a patio I chain-smoke like it’s going out of style. I can fuck up a pack in five hours if I’m drunk enough. I went out on Day 1, but thank GOD I was hanging out with nonsmokers. II love nonsmokers! I They never smoke cigarettes and trigger me, and they're super-supportive of my quitting smoking. I did a lot of lighting cigarettes and then putting them out and then re-lighting them. And I did a lot of chewing on toothpicks. 

DAY 2 (August 2nd) 

I got stung by a wasp in the middle of my sleep and thought that I was dying. It stung me once on my wrist and once on my chest. I was jolted out of sleep by two simultaneous jolts of lightning-like pain in two seemingly unrelated sections of my body and panicked. I called my dad because I knew it would make my mom freak out if I called her and I didn't need any extra panic on my plate when I truly believed I was about to die. My dad told me that I wasn’t dying and that it was probably a bee bite. I trusted him but slept terribly. 

So Day 2 was weird because I was tired and still a little shaken up. I still felt a lot like I was dying. I’d been so sure of it when I woke up to wasp stings that every single minorly-negative thing that happened to me all day counted as proof of my impending death. So it was an inconvenient day for me to be suffering from nicotine withdrawal. It was also very humid out, and I get terrible headaches from the barometric pressure.

They should invent cigarettes that don’t kill you. I know there are those e-cigarette things, but it’s not the same, and I’m trying to do this without using nicotine supplements. There’s no point in being addicted to something that doesn’t get you high. 

I allotted myself too many cigarettes for the evening. I had to let one go to waste. 

I know it must sound insane to a lot of people, fourteen cigarettes counting as cutting down, but I’m just such a bored person. I’m restless. I smoke out of boredom the way binge-eaters eat. It’s better than fucking nothing, I tell myself, and it breaks up time in a way that I've taught myself to exclusively relate to. I can’t comprehend the passage of time without using cigarettes as a gauge- “When did she get here?” “Three cigarettes ago.” 

I need to find something that I can do out of doors that will compensate for all those moments when I’m sitting and watching a movie and feel like I’m going to have a panic attack if I don’t go do something and smoking a cig is the only answer. I like doing things, and I like doing something different. I have a short attention span. I’m going to become a gardener and in the winter build snowmen. 

DAY 3 (August 3rd) 

It doesn’t matter how big of sweethearts your smoker friends are to your face when you tell them you’re trying to quit- in their souls they see it at as a betrayal. Smokers want you to fail. They want you to keep smoking with them forever because, as smokers see it, "As long as my friends smoke, it's okay if I smoke." 

I went out with two of my chainsmokiest friends and spent all day dreading it. I considered cancelling on them because it sounded too hahhhd and scawwwy (that’s how you type a baby-accent) but in the end I didn’t because I luv them and I luv FUN and I’m a toughie! It ended up being pretty much fine although at 1:15 AM I was wasted on a bar patio with only 2 cigs left so I picked a cigarette butt out of an ashtray and smoked it. I felt really great about myself at that moment. It’s so awesome when you remind yourself of a junkie.

DAY 4 (August 4th) 

 Day 4 was really easy because I hung out at my dad’s apartment watching the Olympics all day. My dad bought a new leather easy chair. It was extremely comfortable and the Olympics were engaging. Chairs and Olympics are better than smoking. I only had 11 cigs on Day 4, and wondered if maybe I should allow those 4 unsmoked cigs to carry over into the next day but then I decided NOPE because I’m a trooper and a toughie and fucking DEAL with it Laura Jane

DAY 5 (August 5th) 


I drank a glass of white wine on my floor with my back up against the couch and tried to breathe in a yogic fashion. I ended up drinking most of my wine and writing all night. Nights when I do that, those are my favorite nights. I’ve always said that my perfect heaven would be drinking a glass of white wine and smoking a cigarette with the sun shining down on me after just having written something exceptionally good and I am terrified to amend my heaven. I am terrified to be a writer without cigarettes. I know it’s all in my head but it really does feel like cigarettes possess a magic property which makes me figure out exactly what I need to write. And it gets worse when wine’s involved because wine’s a cigarette-enabler. I feel like white wine and cigarettes and I are a cool little team of badass girl gang girls but recently White Wine and Cigarettes and I pushed it too far in the crime department at Cigarettes’ insistence. Cigarettes got a douchey boyfriend who is bad news a month ago and then she became a methhead. She peer-pressured White Wine and I into holding up a convenience store and while we were doing it we killed a man and now White Wine and I are feeling really fucked up about it; we regret it. We’re trying to break away from Cigarettes’ evil grasp but Cigarettes is very persuasive and alluring and White Wine is worse at resisting her charms than I am but I would never abandon my homegirl White Wine so we’ve got to figure this one out together. 

What happens is I’ll be sitting at my desk drinking white wine and writing and everything is going perfectly well, I feel like I’ve broken through a brick wall into truth territory but then eventually/inevitably, I hit a block. So I go outside and smoke a cigarette and while I’m there I start writing a new sentence in my head and it’s always the perfect sentence.  

It fills my heart with dread to imagine myself going outside and just sitting there. I find it hard to believe that I’d think of as good of sentences, and what happens when it’s February? Smoking is the only reasonable excuse for a person to go sit outside on their patio in the middle of fucking February. I’m not going to put on my boots and parka and go sit in the freezing hail chewing on a fucking toothpick. This is really freaking me out right now. I want to smoke forever and never die. 

DAY 6 (August 6th) 

You never notice when you’re smoking. It’s nothing. It’s a nothing-thing. You want the first one drag because now something has changed. There's a switch in your external environment. Before it was just regular life but now you’ve put a paper thing in your mouth and it’s on fire and you’re inhaling smoke. Then the inhaling smoke becomes your regular and you ignore it because what you wanted was the switch not the smoke. So I’m trying to be very conscious of every pull I take of every cigarette. I want to understand if I really do like the feeling of smoke scratching my throat or if it’s only boredom. And I’m learning that I like the feeling of smoke scratching my throat; I’ve got a masochistic streak and I like a lot of feelings that a lot of people find unpleasant. So I’m trying to savor that feeling while I have it. I am trying to memorize that feeling so that in the future I can mourn it with authority. 

On this night I got really stoned and went to the bathroom and realized that usually when I’m really stoned and have that time alone in my head I tend to go to a really dark place of freaking out about smoking and how much I smoke and how I'm gonna die and my poor parents. Cigarettes not pot, I mean. It was such a peaceful moment to realize that I don’t have to freak out about dying from a smoking-related illness every time I’m stoned anymore. I’m happy that marijuana exists for a lot of reasons but on top of them all it’s really nice to know that once cigarettes are gone at least I’ll get to smoke something

DAY 7 (August 7th) 

Night cigarettes are more precious than day cigarettes and so what I do is cig-starve myself all day and then smoke like a chimney come nightfall. It reminds me of having anorexia and I don’t know how I feel about that. I am adapting old anorexia behaviors and applying them to quitting smoking. I am afraid of night.

I'm walking like crazy. I don’t have a job and I spend my days walking insane distances all over Toronto because as long as my legs are moving it counts as doing something so it makes it easier not to smoke. I used to do the exact same thing to distract myself from how I was starving. When I was sick I would starve all day and then eat my only real meal around 8 because I was scared of starving without the possibility of my future meal looming over me and I was scared of going to bed hungry. And I’m doing the same now: I’m okay with nic-fitting all morning and afternoon because I know eventually the evening will come and I’ll have a million cigarettes and I can smoke them all and I always save myself my one pre-bed cigarette, my most precious cigarette of them all. I don’t keep it in my pack with the rest of them, I lay it out on my desk in the morning because I’m scared that I’ll go out and think “Oh, fuck it, who cares about my pre-bed cigarette, I want to smoke now,” and then I won’t get to have my pre-bed cigarette and I’ll never fall asleep as long as I live. I’m an insomniac and I need my pre-bed cigarette because it puts a cap on the day. I’m going to have to replace it with a cup of fucking tea and it won’t be the same and I hate it I hate it I hate it I hate it. I hate tea. I hate all the stupid lame things that non-smokers do instead of smoking but I wish I were one of them and I will be.

I had a test shift at that restaurant and then met up with Jenn. We went out for dinner and then smoked a joint on her patio and I walked a very long walk home. I had four and a half cigarettes left over because I’d planned it all in advance. I had to give it to myself. I walked home stoned and listened to the Beatles chain-smoking til my throat hurt and it was fucking fantastic and I let myself love it. It was the last time I’ll ever get to do that and I did it in honor of every time I ever have.

20 comments:

  1. ughhh you are so wonderful.

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  2. Can I just say that on Day 1 you were already boss at quitting smoking.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. <3 I'm only getting better

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  3. I recently quit as well, but not from any fear of getting sick. I'm not scared of that yet, I just can't afford it anymore and somehow money is more of an incentive for me than my health. Go figure. It sucks. And you are so right when you say the summer is so much worse than any other time. SO much worse. Not-at-work-time in the summer is time on a patio. Or a porch. And those times spent with smokes are beautiful. But oh well, this is happening and it can be done. Don't worry, you're still gonna be fucking cool without cigarettes.

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    Replies
    1. thank you so much for your support bud! saving money is a majorly sweet upside to not dying

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  4. i smoked. for a long time. my version of cold turkey was the one where i didn't smoke all day, then reached for the pack that i hid in my glove compartment for the drive home. with music playing loud, and the windows rolled down. that kind of quitting. i finally quit eight years ago, and i miss it pretty much every day, i loved it so. but you know, there are other things i love more. so, you know, you're awesome. and you'll do this. i don't even know you, but i know you will.

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    Replies
    1. thanks pal! these quitting smoking success stories are all really helping me

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  5. That is very good you quit smoking and with lots of efforts, it is very appreciable and kind of you..I also tried to quit smoking using vaporizer device, it is actually very effective device in quiting.

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  7. Hi are you still smoke free?

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  8. Your story would make a good inspiration for those who’ve always wanted to quit, but can’t find a way to begin the journey. I’m happy for your finding the strength, discipline, and balance you needed to get through this predicament. And thank you for sharing your story. I hope it will become an effective medium to move many people out there who wants to call it quits with their smoking.

    Sheryl @ Balance For Life

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  10. The reaction to the photo of Lennon being cool is just social conditioning. You might as well find it turning you off. Use hypnosis to quit and re-condition your mind safely and easily.
    Dan @ NYC Quit Smoking

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  11. Congrats on quitting! Did you ever use electronic cigarettes? They are a great way to quit!

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  13. Congrats! How long have you stopped now? Did you try cloudcigs?

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