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Echoes and Mirrors» Blog Archive » Nicotine, You Bastard.

Nicotine, You Bastard.


Well, I quit. Two weeks ago. Okay, I’m shy of two weeks by a couple of hours or so.

And I mean quit like I am making a genuine, concerted effort this time, rather than my usual “I’m quitting, so I’ll only smoke x cigarettes today, and x-1 tomorrow, etc.” or simply not smoking for half a day. This is also my first cold-turkey attempt probably ever except for basic training, which wasn’t exactly voluntary. I’ve always attempted to wean myself off cigarettes with nicotine gum or dip.

Once, or twice, I tried Zyban. Those attempts were not only unsuccessful, but I found out how poorly Zyban and alcohol interact in my brain. The details are unimportant, but I won’t take an anti-depressant to quit smoking again. Several friends have tried Chantix, often with disastrous results. One exception is my father, who claims it worked amazingly well for him and he hasn’t smoked in years now despite my mother continuing to.

Still, I’m not tempted to try it or Zyban again. I haven’t been drinking since I quit smoking, as it’s probably one of my biggest triggers. Bigger than eating or coffee. I’ve upped my caffeine intake considerably, particularly coffee, in fact. Yes, the first few sips makes me crave a smoke, but it’s okay.

Fact is, I’ve never felt this good about not smoking before. I’m attributing it to the other major lifestyle change I’ve made, which is going on early morning runs. Before I quit, I would be winded after a half mile. This morning, I ran four miles and finished with fuel left in the tank. Of course, getting up to run at six in the morning requires that I not be a night owl anymore. And that has led to much more normalized eating habits.

It’s all really disquieting, this shift into being a morning person with ‘normal’ eating habits who sleeps eight hours a night. But I also suspect it’s the only thing keeping me sane over a long, empty summer. I always stayed enrolled full-time over the summers in undergrad so I’m not used to having nothing to do.

I haven’t managed to write one damn word of fiction since I quit smoking, which was what I intended to do with my entire summer. I was doing well at it, too. During the first couple days of abstaining from nicotine, my laptop did something that annoyed me. I don’t recall what it was but it was enough to trigger a tantrum. The result was that my laptop’s harddrive was no longer functional and everything I had written or worked on all summer was now lost. (I am managing to recover some of it — the genuinely important things, in fact — from the internet (from saved email drafts, etc); I’m tempted to look for a decent internet/cloud back up service now.)

My reading habits have gone all wonky as well. I haven’t managed to finish even one, where normally I would be finishing one every other day. I just can’t focus long enough to read more than a page or two before (literally) wandering away from the book. I’m honestly not sure where my time is going. It’s the middle of the afternoon right now: I know I ran from 6-7am, showered, made breakfast, ate and then… I had lunch at noon. And I’ve spent three hours typing this (not editing or revising, but just typing a first draft, mind you). I just can’t seem to manage my time around goals. It used to be that I could set a goal (say, read two chapters or X pages or one hour) and once accomplished, I’d get a smokey treat. Somehow, my time management was so utterly dependent on this reward system that I’m completely non-functional without it.

So, the upside is that I’ll be running half-marathons in a month or two but the downside is that I can’t focus long enough to perform simple tasks like reading or writing.

Yesterday’s post on Wittgenstein/Nietzsche/Cavell/etc. was the first thing I’d written in almost two weeks. This is the second. And it’s not going so well on that front.

I’m wondering if the negatives of smoking –a shortened lifespan, increased risk of cancers, lung disease(s), etc. — are worth the ability to actually do (efficiently) the things that I love to do? The $150-200 I save a month (yes, they cost that much if you smoke like I did) is nice, but does it make up for not being able to, well, do anything because I can’t focus?

This does end, right? I did quit for a few months once (basic training and a little after) but my life was so heavily regimented and prescribed that it didn’t matter: I wasn’t thinking or managing my own time, anyway.

I’m so lost without you, cigarettes.

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