Thing of the Week: Nicotine Withdrawal Day 2K16, Fetishizing Laziness

LJ'S THING OF THE WEEK: Nicotine Withdrawal Day 2K16 

ABOVE: Some1 being a sad saddo on Nicotine Withdrawal Day :(

I quit smoking last Friday night at 1 or 2 in the morning or something. I smoked my last cigarette sitting on the square foot of sidewalk out back of my dad’s apartment where I used to smoke my seven billion cigarettes per average day. I felt shameful about the way that little patch of land was always littered with my Benson & Hedges Menthol Lights 100s butts and would brush them up into my hand and dispose of them upstairs so that the ex-convict whose community service gig was sweeping them up wouldn’t judge me.

I barely even cared that I was smoking my last cigarette as I was smoking it. I was too distracted by listening to the shitty demo Matt & I made of the song Good Morning Wolf Girl I wrote about my friend Eli and taking selfies of myself. The next morning I woke up and felt a bit weird and antsy and drove up to Prince Edward County to hang out at vineyards with my father all day, which was nice. 

When I woke up the next morning the quitting smoking being hard part of quitting smoking started. It felt so bad. I wanted to crunch up cardboard boxes with my hands and rip beautiful flower-heads off their stalks and slaughter some stupid animals and burn Beatles records and bite people’s wrists until they bled. I wanted to kick walls until I broke my own feet.

I was being stabbed in the brain by all the different kinds of headaches. I was spacey as fuck, could not formulate proper sentences, felt like my whole face and head was barriered off into little sections separated by panels of frosted glass so my brain and my mouth or ears, nose, etc, had no ability to relate or communicate. I spoke quietly and slowly and couldn’t think of a single interesting thing to say or even a non-interesting thing to say. I hated all my friends and my phone became disgusting to me. Like it had this really evil energy about it that still hasn’t completely worn off. Any time I received a text message I wanted to impale myself on whatever impale-able thing was nearest by and whip my phone at whoever the annoying phone wanted me to know was trying to tell me something via some stupid social media platform and in doing so fuck their face up. You have no idea how terribly I wanted to fuck everybody's face up. All my best friends' faces. I wanted to hurt them so badly.

I guess maybe you’re wondering why Nicotine Withdrawal Day is my Thing of the Week when it was very clearly and obviously one of the worst days of my life. That’s a good question. I guess I just like it a lot, in my memory, because it was so different from all the other days. It was very unique unto itself, and made a very big deal out of being itself in a way that I respect. It was no wallflower, nicotine withdrawal, that's for sure. 

ABOVE: druggy face-vibes on Nicotine Withdrawal Day, starring Laura Jane Faulds as the owner of her own druggy face

On Nicotine Withdrawal Day my poison headache & I watched the Zac Efron/Seth Rogen vehicle Bad Neighbours at 6:30 in the morning while eating raw raspberries smushed into peanut butter on an English muffin because I’m trying to avoid the sugar in jam. I was jealous of Zac’s inguinal ligaments and wanted to beat the fucking crap out of Seth Rogen for having such a stupid ugs voice that sounds like if a yellow lab with thick spit and bluish gums could talk. It also co-starred James Franco’s brother as a different frat boy who looked like a ceramic figurine of a squirrel. He was my favourite character in the movie.

After it was over I screamed at my dad for a bit maybe and then went for a run. A lot of the time when I tell people I went for a run I am lying and actually just went for a jog, or like a slow walk, but this time I fucking RAN. I ran like I was fighting with the air, like I was trying to teach the air a lesson, or do something to it: make it not be air anymore. Or turn myself into being air too. I felt like my lungs were faring better than their usual smokery selves, and that was a very good feeling. I want to say I transcended but realistically I was too spacey from the nicotine withdrawal to transcend; I opposite of transcended, landed back inside myself. I probably cried. I like and liked life, I love and loved life, it felt good to know I’m probably not going to die of lung cancer, I’m going to run really fast and far forever. I ran along the side of the lake past the hotels and into the financial district which was grey and dead on a Sunday. I listened to Psychotic Reaction over and over and came home and signed myself up to run a half-marathon next May either 7th or 17th and then felt like shit and wished I was abusing my loved ones again.

I don’t remember what clothes I wore. I showered and walked to Zara and tried on a zippery rose-gold leather bomber jacket that looked cartoonish on me. I walked to the convenience store on the corner of Queen & John so I could buy a bland square of carrot poppyseed cake wrapped in saran wrap. I used to eat those squares for breakfast when I was ill and depressed the winter I was twenty-two. I bought one and and a Fresca and sat and ate them on a bench in a parking lot listening to Syd Barrett and either crying or trying not to cry. I walked over to Kritty’s house and some new neighbour I’d never seen before was standing outside her house repairing a fan or something. He asked me if I lived at Kritty’s house and I replied so quietly he couldn’t hear me so as not to further fuck my brain up— my voice, out of all the voices, was the most abrasive voice of all. The yelpy sound of it made me want to beat myself up. 

Kritty has a little lock-box with a key in it on her front porch so I can let myself into her house while she’s not there but there was a bike blocking my normal route to the lock-box and my brain was too muggy and slow to know how to deal with it. The dude was like, "Can I help you with something?"- I think he thought I was high on drugs. I said some mean things to him. If my voice were in an Archie comic it would have been surrounded by a speech bubble that looked like it was dripping with icicles. My head felt like I’d just smashed it into something. I ignored the guy and walked away. I forgot to mention that I hadn’t brought my phone with me because its evil energy was just too horrible for me to deal with. So I couldn’t text Kritty to say I was out front, so I didn’t. It was so weird of me to do that. I walked all the way there, and then just left.

I was too distressed and disoriented to listen to music so I didn’t. I walked to a movie theatre and learned at the movie theatre that Joseph Gordon Levitt is an actor in a movie they've made about Edward Snowden even though Edward Snowden’s story isn’t even over yet. It’s so stupid, how desperate they are to make a movie about fucking anything. That was really upsetting to me, and I couldn't make heads nor tails out of what any of the other movies were about, so I walked all the way back home and lay in bed and cried and my dad was very nice and hugged me and told me I could do it but I really had my doubts at that point. I was angry with cigarette companies for being evil and angry at every smoker and at every non-smoker. I was angry at my little kid self for having absorbed pro-smoker rhetoric at such a young age, I kept remembering this memory of being at daycare and watching a group of punk smokers who were teenagers smoking beneath a tree. I knew then, when I was five or three or whatever, that I'd grow up to be a cool smoker myself one day. 

"This is what has become of that day," I thought. The start and end of the same story. I couldn’t move or barely breathe or think. I dealt with it as actively as I could, because that's what I do, and made a little movie on my phone for myself to watch any time I ever want to smoke again in the future. Here is a very earnest excerpt from it:

That night I blew off all my plans and put my phone on airplane mode and walked down to Sherbourne Common, the little park by the lake where the fountains look like brontosauruses. Brontosauri. I swang on a swing and listened to my favourite song Miss O’Dell by George Harrison.

In the song George is living in Los Angeles and feels isolated, struggles with relating to his peers, and wishes a girl was calling him on the telephone, which all sound like negative things to be dealing with but the song is very chilled and easy and he laughs a lot in it. It’s the most perfect song I ever heard and it always helps me understand why I’m alive. I didn’t choose to listen to it, my iPod shuf just played it for me. Swinging felt good because the air was a little bit astringent the way it whipped at my face and my legs were pumping back and forth, I was eating up some energy. I was doing something.

By the time I got off the swing the worst of it was over. My legs felt a bit shakey and I walked down to the lake. I tranced out into watching the white & navy tie-dyed waves, looked at all the yachts and schooners and wished I was on one. I never used to look at the lake before I moved to England but then I came home from England and now I look at the lake all the time. It’s a beautiful lake, just like every lake. I'm going to die old, I think. I'm going to look out at so many lakes, and I'm going to take all the money I save from not buying cigarettes, I'm gonna buy myself a boat. 

LIZ'S THING OF THE WEEK: Fetishizing Laziness

The other morning I started thinking about how it'd be nice to be lazy like Neil Young, or like one of those super-lazy Neil Young songs, like "Round & Round" or "Out on the Weekend." I'm rarely lazy; I work a whole lot and when I'm not working I try to spend time doing things that keep my head on straight, like hanging out with pals and going running or for big long walks and reading good stuff, and trying to write good stuff too. It doesn't leave much room for true laziness, which I want to clarify as different from that thing of working too much and then collapsing into a heap and Netflix-ing for like seven hours straight.* That's just exhaustion, or at least the performance of exhaustion. Boring.

To me lazy means living according to your own easy-breezy pace instead of conforming to the pace of the world. (Or to the pace of people in the world, I guess is what I mean- I think the actual world wants us to be lazy more often; that's why there are meadows and beaches and other great expanses of natural beauty to wander around in.) It's a state of existence that's conducive to a deep and heavy zoning-out, the kind where you're not even monitoring your daydreaming for possible material to use later on. You're just on another plane, and magic things happen there, and they change your head in a really cool way.

In one ideal version of my life I'd live right by the sea, and on a weekday I'd wake up whenever I felt like waking up, and spend a lot of my morning drinking coffee and reading the paper on the porch. And then I'd take the dog for a walk, and the dog's an English sheepdog, because recently I decided that when I'm older I'm going to go Full Paul and get myself a Martha.** Work itself would be writing things I wanted to write, possibly at some crazy old writing desk, and while writing I'd drink about 800 cups of Christmas tea (which is black tea with cinnamon and cloves and tiny pieces of orange peel) and probably eat a banana or a Pink Lady apple. In the afternoon I'd take a break and make myself a great sandwich, like a walnutty chicken salad on crazy-thick brown bread from the bakery down the road, which also would bake some killer pineapple scones or maybe raspberry muffins. And then my Martha dog and I would walk the beach some more, and then I'd get a little more writing done, if I felt like it. And in the evening there'd be hanging out at the kitchen table with sweet people, and drinking halfway-decent wine and eating an amazing dinner that someone else cooked for me, and listening to the kind of music that people listen to in reasonably perfect lives- like Astral Weeks, or The Hissing of Summer Lawns. That'd be my Monday, or my Tuesday: by far the most high-stress day of my week.

I like my job and I keep getting better at it. The other day for work I met a band for lunch on Ventura Boulevard; the singer boy was a total angel and ordered a grilled cheese sandwich and told me about listening to the Cranberries with his dad when he was little, and about how he wants to make songs to help shy goofs believe in love. I was like, "I can't believe this is my job, to talk to this adorable kid and then write some paragraphs so that people will pay attention to his record." Not a bad gig at all.

But it's also the kind of gig where you've gotta work a lot to make any real money- and I need real money, which means a lazier life feels very far away from me. It's not likely to get all that much closer any time soon, so for now I'm trying to slip into little moments of laziness whenever I can. And when I can't do that, I rely on fetishizing the laziness of others, like Neil Young in 1969 or 1972, or Keith Richards sunbathing at Nellcôte, or Paul McCartney hanging around with good ol Martha. Paul is the best because you know he's a total go-getter and an industrious weirdo, but he's also so good at cultivating a happy-lazy vibe, like the vibe of Ram. I used to believe in "I'm gonna make a lot of money, then I'm gonna quit this crazy scene," but now it's more like "I'm gonna make a medium amount of money, and then go hang out on my Scottish dream farm a while and eventually write 'Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey.'" Dream Farm Paul is my number-one laziness role model. He totally happens on a pineapple-scone level.

*I'm not anti-Netflix or anything, and mostly I'm telling you that so I can work in a line or two about how in love I am with BoJack and how, the morning after watching the most recent season finale, "Stars" by Nina Simone came on my iTunes at the gym and then I had this cool moment of getting all teary-eyed on the treadmill, especially at the "And the latest story that I know is the one that I'm supposed to go out with" lyric; OH MY GOD

**I want to acknowledge that my English sheepdog obsession was also very much inspired by a dog named Rocco Roni, who I first discovered via this wonderful video wherein Rocco tries to climb up a chair but keeps slipping off. Rocco is an excellent Instagram follow; so many of his posts are focused on his butt, which is fantastic - both the choice to be butt-centric, and the butt itself.


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  2. This is an interesting account of your life and your nicotine withdrawal. Its good that you are speaking up and sharing your thoughts as this will give an outlet to your feelings.

  3. I LOVED THIS WHOLE THING. thank you for writing it.