22.8.12

LAURA JANE'S QUITTING SMOKING JOURNALS: Week 3

BY LAURA JANE (ILLUSTRATION BY JEN)

I am quitting smoking by incrementally reducing the amount of cigarettes I smoke per day and documenting my weekly progress on this blog. 

MY PRE-QUITTING SMOKING GAME PLAN: 

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! 

Week 1's entry features a lengthy preamble explaining exactly why I'm quitting smoking so click away if you missed it the first time around, and Week 2 is also a good read. As follows is the tale of Week 3.

Day 15 (August 15th, 2012)

I was scared to wake up in the morning and have it be 11 cigs but then I remembered I have a job now so everything is fine. I smoked 4 cigarettes during the day leading up to work, and stood next to a guy with 3 prison tears on the subway. We're allowed to run outside for a smoke during work if it's slow but I made a rule for myself that I'm never ever going to do that. I may as well just cut it out of the equation. The chef went outside to smoke twice and both times she came back in I could smell her smoke smell as if I were a non-smoker and it grossed me out. I can't believe I smell like that. I can't believe I've ever bothered spending any money on expensive perfume when it's so obvious all I smell like is an ashtray that got rained on. This sentence I am writing is an open apology to everyone who's ever had to stand next to me in an elevator. 

When I got off work I sat on the stoop outside the travel agency and smoked a cigarette and it was very refreshing. When I got off the train it was nearly eleven and I still had six cigarettes left so I smoked one walking home even though I didn't really need or want it. I got home and checked the Internet and watched an episode of LOST and smoked a cigarette and went to bed. I smoked 7 cigarettes that day, the least amount of cigarettes I've ever smoked in a day since I was a toddler! 

I went to bed and had the craziest insomnia. I lay up fretting until 3 AM. What's funny is that I never once considered going outside to smoke a cigarette. I sat in bed eating dried pineapple chunks out of the palm of my hand and making up stories about what Ray Davies would tell me if I asked him what John Lennon was like. I wonder if I would have fallen asleep easier if I'd smoked but I never want to think about it again or else I may start rationing myself an in-case-of-insomnia cigarette and that sounds like major defeatist-attitude behavior. I'm not looking forward to the next night I have crazy-insomnia and start freaking out about whether I should waste one of my tomorrow's cigarettes on soothing my nerves or not. Now that I've put the idea into my head and all.  




Day 16 (August 16th, 2012)

My day got off to a lame start because it was the night after my crazy-insomnia experience. I think I got three hours sleep. I can never sleep in late enough to justify how late I stay up. I was the kind of tired where it feels like someone jammed sand under your eyelids.

I watched an episode of LOST and went outside to smoke my morning cigarette. I sat on my stoop and said, out loud, "It's over." The difference between 13 and 11 is the distance from Earth to the moon; 15 and 13 were a twenty-minute walk. And this was a terrible day for smoking 11 cigarettes. A couple weeks ago I made myself a new gym schedule because I was getting really lazy about going to the gym and when I don't work out I get a headache so I was just lazy with a headache and it sucked and I kicked my ass in gear. My gym sked is that I go to the gym every day for three days and then take a day off and then three days, day off, and so on and so forth. Today was my day off, which I appreciated it because I was so tired, but it sucked to skip out on the gym on my first real day of 11 cigarettes because the gym eats up a lot of time, it's pretty much three free hours of not smoking a cigarette. Instead I was just alone and exhausted in my bedroom formatting our last SFW Survey and Blogger was being so annoying and kept fucking everything up and I was tired and hated everything and all I could think about was cigarettes but somehow managed to make it until 6 PM only smoking four cigarettes. I did it by chewing on a lot of toothpicks and by smoking two of those cigarettes in thirds. 

I met Amanda for dinner and drinks at 3Speed or maybe you spell it Three Speed or 3-Speed, and brought myself a ration of only 3 cigs for the evening. It was great because Amanda is a nonsmoker so I managed to make it all the way through a meal plus two glasses of white wine on a patio smoking only 2 cigarettes! After dinner we went to Value Village and I had a seriously cosmic experience where I found Exile In Guyville and Whip-Smart by Liz Phair and a bunch of Velvet Underground, a Lush album, and Pet Sounds on cassette and this black faux-fur coat that is the exact perfect mix of rooftop John Lennon's fur jacket and rooftop George Harrison's fur jacket, and then I found this: 



And my entire life fell into perfect alignment. For a few minutes I allowed myself to believe that the pin was the Universe's way of rewarding me for making it through a tough day of quitting smoking, for quitting smoking in general- but then I snapped back. I don't think the Universe gives a fuck that Laura Jane is quitting smoking or that she found a John Lennon pin at Value Village. But it's nice when nice things happen, it makes everything a little easier, and I don't know why I have to tell myself it's the Universe when really it's just luck and perseverance mixed together, which is cooler and more meaningful than if it were just the dumb old Universe mollycoddling me. 

I had four cigarettes left over for the rest of the night and got myself through the next four hours of my being awake by smoking one per hour, on the half-hour. It wasn't ideal but if you put a gun to my head and made me choose, I'd rather have that John Lennon pin than smoke. 

Day 17 (August 17th, 2012) 

I didn't go to work but I went to the gym so that was better than nothing. It was chilly in the morning and the old Greek man across the street was wearing a lovely pale grey cardigan so I waved at him extra-enthusiastically to congratulate him on his cardigan-cuteness. This has nothing to do with cigarettes but I've decided that the progression of my relationship with the old Greek man across the street would make a cool subplot to the central narrative of my quitting smoking. 

Something is happening to me that I remember from the first time I quit smoking: I've started noticing every single person on the street who is smoking a cigarette. I am so excessively hyper-conscious of every smoker smoking everywhere. If you are a smoker I know it right now. I can tell. It is beaming at me through the Internet and I'm obsessed with it. I'm curious about every one of these smokers' relationship with smoking; there's a big part of me that wishes they could all be quitting too. I feel sad for them. I don't want them to die. 

I don't chew on toothpicks as much as I thought I would. A cool thing happened. It was a Friday night and I spent most of it sitting Erin's stoop drinking a gin-and-Fresca out of a Big Gulp cup. Really great drink. It wasn't too hard not to smoke because Erin doesn't smoke and I was meeting up with Jenn later and I was motivated to not smoke by my stupid obsessive need to save cigarettes for the Jenn part of the night. Jenn was late to come meet me. She was riding her bike from across town and I was scared she'd died in a bike accident but it turned out she was fine; she'd just left later than she said she would SO THANKS FOR FREAKING ME THE FUCK OUT JENN I LOVE YOU SO MUCH YOU STUPID JERK

Jenn and I went to Squirly's and sat on the patio. It was as cold as fall. I ordered a glass of sangria. Usually it's that really lame Toronto sangria which is half orange juice and a shot of melon liqueur and then the rest red wine, but evidently the bar was out of orange juice so my two glasses of sang were just red wine and melon liqueur and I got awesomely drunker than I was expecting to. When we got there I only had one and a half cigs left for the night not counting the pre-bed cig I had waiting for me when I got home. I smoked a quarter of my half right away and then smoked the rest of it as soon as my drink came. And then all I could think about was my one other cigarette. It was hard for me to pay attention or concentrate on anything. If you looked inside the thought bubble floating above my head it only held a picture of a cigarette. Maybe a picture of a cigarette followed by a "?!?!?!?!" 

I wanted to not smoke it. I knew Jenn and I were going to be out for a long long time and I wanted to save half of it for later in the drunkenness and the other half for my walk home. It was like being on a diet next door to a patisserie. That cigarette was CALLING MY NAME. I smoked half of it and then started chewing on toothpicks so hard they kept breaking in my mouth and I had to spit out shards of wood like an asshole. Finally I interrupted the serious and emotional story Jenn was telling to me to say "LOOK, I'M JUST GOING TO SMOKE THIS CIGARETTE, OKAY? AND THEN I'M GOING TO BE OUT OF CIGARETTES FOR THE REST OF THE NIGHT, AND IT WILL BE FINE," and Jenn was all "You can do this, girl!" because that's what best friends are for. 

I smoked the end of that cigarette and it was done. We stayed out for another two hours and I didn't think about a cigarette at all. I was free. It was the most wonderful thing. 

Day 18 (August 18th, 2012) 

Today was awesome because I went to the gym and also went to work which meant that I could smoke to my heart's content during all hours of the day that weren't spent at work or the gym which were very few of them. I only smoked nine.  

Work kind of pissed me off because every single person I work with smokes and there's a little bit of cruel irony in that. I've been shamed for being a smoker in the workplace so many times and now finally I've found my smoker's haven and I'm about to stop smoking. Everyone kept running out for cigarettes and I wanted to go with them but I said "NO, LAURA. NO NO NO, LAURA" and then I felt sorry for myself so I ran down to the staff washroom and looked at my good old face in the mirror and told it "JUST FUCKING QUIT SMOKING AND SHUT UP," and then I felt a lot better. Some part of my heart is a drill sergeant. 

I guess now's as good of a time as any to admit that I am pretty much exclusively smoking 100s at this point. At first I was guilt-tripping myself about it but then I realized "Who the fuck cares?" This is my thing; I'm the drill sergeant. Nobody's monitoring me, nobody's standing at the foot of my bed every morning pointing a gun at my face forcing me to do this. Nobody cares. I mean I'm sure some of you reading this kind of care, but if I fucked it up, I'm confident you'd all move on with your lives pretty quickly. I'm smoking eleven cigarettes a day because I want to quit smoking and next week I'm going to smoke nine cigarettes a day because I want to quit smoking and eventually I'll smoke 2 cigarettes a day, because I want to quit smoking, and the week after that I won't smoke anymore, so what does it fucking matter if I'm smoking 100s or kings or the short little baby ones. In the end, the same thing happens. I quit. 

Day 19 (August 19th, 2012) 

I've started doing 100 stomach crunches every day because they eat up time. I'm interested in doing anything and everything that's not smoking a cigarette. The other night Amanda was trying to sell me on this really chill yoga class she's been taking and if it were a month ago I would have been like "Ew, can we please not talk about yoga" because yoga's literally the exact opposite of my steez as a human but then the alarm went off over my head and I was like "Oh shit! Yoga's totally not smoking! Count me in!" 

I broke my "No cigarettes at work" rule and smoked a half-cigarette near the end of the night because everyone else was doing it and who the fuck cares. I was getting cranky and didn't want to do any work because all I could think about was how cool life would be once I got off work and could smoke a cigarette and eat my trail mix on the subway and then go home and be in bed. But I didn't want to be in that headspace, since my new attitude about work is that I like work and I'm grateful to finally be in a place that feels right. So I figured that if I just let myself smoke a little bit I'd be less obsessed with leaving and get back into a nice space of being happy to be there and wanting to wow my new employers with my awesomeness. So I asked the head server if it was cool if I could smoke, like, half a cigarette, and he said "Go go go!" in a very encouraging and adorable way. So I went went went. 

It was a really nice, chilled-out cigarette. I smoked nine again. 

Day 20 (August 20th, 2012) 

I've invented a new thing, called a "five-dragger." God bless five-draggers. Five-draggers are for when I really want to smoke a cigarette for boredom-alleviation purposes, not because I actually need or deserve one. I go outside and smoke five drags of a cigarette and then stab it out. It makes it so that I smoked but also didn't smoke. I have pretty much the entire cigarette left for later. It's really smart. Holla at five-draggers. 

I worked again but didn't take a smoke break. I am writing these words in real time. It's tonight. I got off and came home and wrote almost every word you just read and the entire time I was listening to my fan break, and then my fan died. When my fan died it felt like a metaphor for quitting smoking, because I'm a writer and every thing that happens feels like a metaphor for something else that's happening. And then it happens in reverse- quitting smoking is a metaphor for something else, and not just my fan. 

I am taking steps toward changing my life in ways that are too overwhelming for me to explain in writing right now. When my fan died I stepped outside for a five-dragger and I thought I feel like I'm living a lie! Every cigarette I smoke is the ghost of all the cigarettes I'll never smoke again. This version of myself I am right now is a smudged up Xerox of the final draft, tip-toeing her way through a surprisingly pragmatic masterplan in baby-steps. Today-me is a blueprint I'll eventually crumple up and toss out, and I feel both happy and sad about that. With a crinkled forehead and lots of empathy I remember a Laura Jane from exactly three Augusts ago, a girl who wrote the sentence "When I look back upon my life, I know that the person I am today will always be the version of myself I love the best": a little girl who wanted to smoke and be thin and get paid for smoking and being thin. 

When I look back upon my life, I think I'll forget about the person I am today until I read this sentence back and even then it'll be a weird haze. I think that when I look back upon my life, I'll think about the girl I was three Augusts ago and she'll always stay the same as she is right now- the version of myself I feel saddest for. And I think that when I look back upon my life, I'll think about the person I'm going to be in an August from now and I'll be the same as I was then. 

Day 21 (August 21st, 2012)

Quitting smoking really got the best of me today. Everything about it was impossible and even as I'm sitting here writing it it still feels impossible and it's impossible to believe that I will successfully follow through with this and so deeply I wish there were no cigarettes. I wish that nobody had ever invented them. 

I only smoked 3 cigarettes until 6:30 PM and it didn't happen organically. The morning was easy because I went to the gym and then I had to go out and run some errands and I only brought one cigarette with me and then I ended up going shopping and it was stupid and hellish and I'm never going to set foot inside an H&M dressing room again in my life and by the time it all was over I was riding home listening to Police & Thieves on a packed subway car with one palm flat against the ceiling sniffing an old man's underarm BO and I wanted to cry and die and I couldn't believe that cigarettes were doing this to me. I wanted to kill the entire world and when I came home I looked at the Internet and imagined myself punching every dumb loser in the face through my computer screen and I smoked a cigarette and nothing felt better and I'd had this plan-  tonight was supposed to be my big writing night. I was trying to write about the Kinks, I had all these good Kinks-jots jotted down in my notebook but when I looked at the fake Microsoft Word piece of paper I just felt nervous and had writer's block and really all I did tonight was freak about how I feel like I'll never write anything good again and freak out about cigarettes and gorge myself on cigarettes. 

It's 11:33 PM and my head is just cigarettes cigarettes cigarettes and seriously the first thing I thought when I woke up this morning was so heavy it shocked me, like I was wearing a bodysuit made of washcloths and my heart was made of ceramic as it fell out of my chest and it answered so many questions about my heart, why it's always been so dreadfully delicate. A strawberry fell off my English muffin and congealed on the hardwood next to the thin white shard of heart and I realized it's going to be true for real one day- I'm not going to be twenty-seven forever, I'm going to be fucking fifty one dayAnd whatever's going to happen will have happened and it's all on my shoulders right now and I worry that I've wasted my eleven cigarettes week on working, I've sacrificed eight of them in all and I want to smoke all those eight but I won't because it's cheating and it's going to be nine tomorrow, fucking nine, the Beatlesiest number and I feel like I can't do it but I'll do it. Every week I do it and it makes no sense to me. I can't believe I've made it this far; I feel like I haven't actually done it- like it couldn't really have been me who did that. 

Every day I make it, and I have no idea how I made it. I feel like someone else has been doing it for me, but there's nobody. There's nobody else. It's just me.

11 comments:

  1. God, don't I just sound like such a dreamy nouveau hippe turd, trying to turn you on to yoga. I swear, it's only because it's the stoneriest yoga class in town and it's essentially napping you feel real proud of yourself for doing and then you get to feel guiltless about all of the toppings at Yogurty's 5 minutes later.

    I love these columns. I don't want you to quit smoking because I selfishly want to keep reading about you quitting smoking, but I actually do because you should live to be forever years old.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. that yoga class should put "the stoneriest yoga class in town!" on it's brochure.

      THANKS PAL

      Delete
  2. Go LJ go! Go LJ go!

    PS All week I have been eagerly awaiting this post.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I also super anticipate these posts. You are DOING IT.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I like it when you write about the length of life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. well that's wonderful news, because it's definitely a recurring theme!

      Delete
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  7. I read your post as if I was watching a film. Is it still tough to quit smoking after a year? I hope you are successful. LJ, your experience would encourage chain smokers to decide to really quit smoking. Others have succeeded, and so will you! =)
    Elene Meyers

    ReplyDelete
  8. Great writing bring it to the QUIT SMOKING JOURNALS it will help others facing off with the evil nicodemon

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