So, I don’t wanna jinx it or something, but I think I quit smoking.
When I met Tom (Hunky), he had smoked a pack or two a day since high school. Reds.
We were friends for a while, and that was fine; I kind of liked the smell of a cigarette lit with a match when we were taking his car. He and his roommate smoked in their apartment. But I could tolerate my friend smoking around me. That was fine.
But. We became a little more than friends. Before we got very far, I told him I couldn’t date a smoker. Just not an option. He didn’t quit.
Later, I told him I couldn’t accept a proposal until he quit smoking. He didn’t quit.
Later-er, I told him I couldn’t marry him until he quit smoking. He didn’t quit.
So after begging and pleading and fighting and coercing and arguing and crying and groaning and gnashing of teeth, nigh, even unto hyperventilation, guess what? He didn’t quit. And I had the unmitigated gall to act surprised.
What was it about cigarettes exactly that was so great? Because, he must really love smoking more than he loved me, of course. (Did I mention I was kind of a drama queen about the whole thing?) Why couldn’t he just quit? Why didn’t he want to quit?
I was working second shift at MCI and we’d all get off at 11:30 and go to the bar across the street, O’Maggie’s. One night, I was sitting there with my friends, drinking and laughing, and long story short: they showed me how to smoke. I was 21. At first, I just smoked after work at the bar. Then, I was smoking on breaks, too; I had discovered the social aspect of smoking at work. Then, screw it, I’m smoking at work and the bar, why not just one in the morning before I left, and one with Tom before we went to bed? And one day when I wasn’t paying attention, I became a smoker.
Fast forward a few months, and I found out I was pregnant with Rocky. I dropped the cigarettes like a bucket of cockroaches. Then after he was born, post-partum depression hit, and I started drinking, then smoking, again. I kept smoking even after I found out I was pregnant with Dino. I told myself since they were ultralight 100s and I was rationing three a day, it was fine. I smoked for another few years after he was born. Several times I tried to quit, and I’d get a week or so in, sometimes a month, and something would happen that I would go, screw it, I gotta smoke just one. And the next day I was a smoker again. There was one time that I tried to quit, and I started having what we thought were maybe asthma attacks but then decided maybe they were panic attacks (it’s all very which came first, the chicken or the egg; asthma, then panic or panic, then asthma) and I started again to make whatever it was go away. I said, leave it to my stupid body to have trouble breathing after I quit smoking!
In October 2004, I quit, and managed to stay on the wagon for a while. Then I did smoke the night of my graduation party. The next morning I was so hungover, had I tried to smoke, I’m convinced it would have been like a scene out of The Exorcist. I managed to only smoke that night and not pick it back up.
I started working at my first real graphic designer job in January 2006. By December 2006, I was having huge problems at work and started having panic attacks again. I started smoking just one or two, because it would make them stop. Again, when I wasn’t really paying attention, I became a smoker again.
Now, today, I still really like smoking. I know I shouldn’t, for my health and good hygiene, but gosh, I really like smoking. I like the habit. It’s like a blankie. I like the social part of smoking. There’s like, a bond, between smokers, almost like the bond between motorcyclists. I don’t smoke in the house, and I do smoke in my car. (And it smells like ass.)
Things have been changing in my environment that affect my smoking habit.
Strike one: In July, Cedar Rapids became non-smoking in all restaurants and bars. So no more smoking when you go out to eat. When you’re drinking, if you’re lucky, you have to go outside to a beer garden. But sometimes that isn’t even an option and you have to smoke a certain distance from the building.
Strike two: This year, I don’t have a set habit of smoking at work because, well, I don’t have set work. I temp or I’m at home. And oddly enough, when I’m at home, I don’t smoke for several hours at a time, sometimes even a whole day. So no set habit of smoking at work.
Strike three: A couple weeks ago, I bought my brother’s car from him, and oh my gosh, it actually smelled really nice. I decided no smoking in my new-to-me car.
Adding insult to injury: Every winter, I end up smoking less because I go out to the garage to smoke, and that’s kind of a pain in the ass when it’s toasty warm in here and nipples-at-attention cold out there.
Finally, I got whatever chest cold that’s been going around and I’ve been sick as hell since last weekend. My chest was so congested and painful, I couldn’t smoke.
Now, today was the first day that I felt not-so-sick anymore, and I didn’t smoke. And I haven’t smoked yet. I kind of feel like I could maybe not smoke tomorrow.
I just know that the problem comes at the moment I decide, Ok, NOW I’m not smoking. Because then, all I want in the whole wide world is a damn smoke.
Rip it, roll it, and punch it, dude. But this is the non-smoking section.
*Remember this from one of the Beverly Cleary “Ramona” books?