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Well, I made it to Day 10. I started this blog to chronicle my on-going and historic streak of failed attempts to quit smoking. Honestly, I didn’t actually think I would get this far. I have been here before, though, so it’s not necessarily the end. It’s never the end. But it’s a pretty good start.
After ten days not smoking becomes mostly pretty easy. You start to realize that you can actually do the things you do everyday without lighting up. In fact you can do them better, and you’ll feel better doing them. It’s getting over the hump that’s the hard part. The withdrawals and detoxing process sucks ass. Unfortunately it doesn’t work the same way in reverse. The retoxing process just takes about twenty minutes and two cigarettes. So stay vigilant.
The rest of this process is mostly mental. You just have to stay in the mindset that you don’t smoke. All the time. It’s just not something that you do. You can still hang out with people that smoke. Smokers are way more interesting to hang around than non-smokers; that’s just a fact. Just keep in mind how bad you’ll feel if you take a puff. Remind yourself that you’ll instantly have a headache and start coughing. It would be horrible. It won’t be too hard after a while, because the smoke will start to smell like ashy toxic death.
The hardest part of not smoking is finding something else to do. One of the best things about smoking was having the excuse to take a relaxing ten-minute break, any time life got too manic. This is something you’ll continually have to work on. Remember you can still take those breaks, but you don’t have to make yourself feel like crap to do it. Maybe do a few sit-ups, push-ups or jumping jacks. Make a snack. Play a video game. Or just step outside and sit on the patio for a few minutes.
As the novelty of being able to smell, taste, walk and hear again starts to wear off, the thought will inevitably cross your mind that you can just have one cigarette every now and then without backsliding. This is wrong. There are no documented cases in history of a former smoker having “just one” cigarette at a party and not starting up again within a week. It’s just not physically possible. Some people fight this urge by smoking cigars. While this is possible, don’t do it. People who smoke cigars are just intolerable.
Well, that’s about it. I’m not going to be writing in this blog regularly any more, but I may post updates from time to time. And I promise that if I start smoking again, I’ll return to writing here about the quitting process. Hopefully that will be the motivation I need to never smoke again. If all else fails, maybe you should try writing a blog about quitting. Because if health and well-being isn’t a good enough reason to quit, a daily two-hour writing assignment might be just the ticket. Xo.
It’s really happening. I know it’s a weird feeling, but if you’ve made it this far it’s time to come to terms with the fact that you are now, pretty much officially, a non-smoker. All those hours spent hiding in the shadows, quietly watching and reviling the non-smokers from afar, now seem kinda wasted. Don’t let that get you down. You put in some good years reviling those-who-don’t-smoke; now it’s time to step aside and let a new generation move in and revile you, and your newfound smokelessness.
You may be starting to like your new super-powers. You might find yourself going to birthday parties and Italian restaurants, just for the possible opportunity to blow out candles when no one is looking. This is normal. Don’t fight the urge. You might notice getting out of bed doesn’t necessarily require forty-five minutes of rest breaks and mental reassurance any more. It still will sometimes, but not always. You’ll notice that your voice is less stuffy, your hearing is more acute, and your senses of smell and taste are returning. Spicy foods will taste hot again. You’ll be able to pick out lilacs at 30 feet. Even your jaws will move more freely. It’s like a maid came in and dusted and polished every joint and passageway in your body until the entire place was sparkling and smelled like lemons. Get used to that too. From now on the inside of your head will smell roughly like lemons.
It really is nice to get to this point. The quitting process is a major suck-fest, but after it’s over you’ll have an entire new life to explore. You can go on hikes instead of brooding quietly in the dark, convinced you have cancer. You can ride a bike with impunity instead of working up dripping rivulets of sweat from the twelve-foot walk to the car.
In short things are good. Just don’t lose your newfound revulsion for cigarettes and the days will fly by. This thing is almost over.
I know it didn’t seem possible during all the detoxing, nic fit-ing and fluid expelling of the past days, but eventually you will wake up one morning and actually feel good. You’ll feel rested, oxygenated and optimistic about the future. Your morning masturbation session will seem like a treat instead of a chore. A morning cigarette now sounds about as appealing as rolling in hot tar and hugging baby chickens. You may even be able to have a nice cup of coffee without completely flipping out. Be careful though, hidden nic fits are hiding where you least expect them. You might be casually minding your own business when bam! A facebook post from an ex-lover will have you careening. These won’t last too long these days, though. You should be able to power through. Chew some gum or eat a cookie, and remember this shit sucks too much to go through again next week.
Contrary to my previous optimism, the big thing to remember today is that you aren’t in the clear yet. After three days of not even considering a cigarette, you might suddenly receive some discouraging news like a punch in the face and instantly feel the urge to crawl back into a towering black pillar of smoke. This will pass. I think.
Today, even though you’ve lost half your body weight in mucus this week, there is still more to come. Take some showers and several walks. Your lung capacity still isn’t coming back, but you will start to smell things again, and you may even remember that it is quite pleasant outside sometimes.
If it helps you make it through today try to remember this: a whole new world will open up if you make it through this quitting process. Alternatively, tell yourself this: nothing will ever be good again until this shit is over.
I know that the date I’m writing these entries now is getting somewhat out of sync with the actual temporal reality of the situation, but you have to understand that a smoker’s time moves at a different pace than a non-smoker’s. There will be an adjustment period during which there is no time. It actually stops ticking. Or ticks faster. Perhaps sometimes briefly in reverse. I don’t know, it’s weird. Don’t have any appointments during this time, and don’t expect to schedule when you will sleep. The good news is that you will probably start to sleep less, and instead of being chronically devoid of energy, you’ll start to feel like you actually want to move around, walk and lift things. Things that before seemed immovable; books, laundry, spoons.
Anyways, Day 6. It’s a good day. Things keep opening up in your head and you’ll probably feel like getting some exercise. Be careful though, your lung capacity isn’t back to the level of a normal human yet, though you might want to believe it is. If you’re like me you might inadvisably try to ride like 12 miles on your bike today and end up stumbling home hours later wheezing and gasping for air before collapsing and falling into a death-like 10 hour slumber. Probably best for your health to avoid this mistake.
The cravings are almost completely gone by now and you might actually start to feel nostalgic for them. You’ll start to miss those moments when you had nothing else to do but kick back and have a smoke. Well, you can’t. Get used to disappointment.
If you’re like me, today will mostly be spent squishing your face into ridiculously contorted positions in order to work open those ducts and pipes in your head that five days ago you didn’t know were there. You’ll pop your ears and push air from your Maxillary Sinus up to your Frontal Sinus and back and forth from your Ethmoidals. Your inner ears will pop and drain, and aural registers that you didn’t know still existed will suddenly come flooding back into your head. There’s even some weird passageway way back behind your uvula that will suddenly expel a few years worth of saved up sediment. It will feel great. Eventually, after you drain for a while, even your tear ducts will pop open. Seriously, you’ll feel it happen. It’ll be weird. But just think of all the good, well-ventilated cries you’ll soon be having.
The cravings will be almost gone by today, but that makes this one of the most dangerous moments in the quitting process (followed closely by every other point in the quitting process.) Because you’ll wake up not craving a cigarette today, you might start getting cocky. You’ll want to dangle tobacco in front of your eyes to spitefully taunt the person you used to be. You’ll start to wear necklaces of dead cigarette butts like the trophies of shrunken heads worn by erstwhile conquerors and Mel Gibson.
You might even be tempted to go to a party today on a rooftop in Hollywood where lots of attractive and interesting people will be smoking. If you have been adequately meditating on your inner hatred and repulsion of cigarettes, you might just be able to make it through, but be careful. After that first pull from a flask of Jack that some random person offers up, your eyes may glow green and attempt to seek out the nearest half-full pack of cigarettes like the single-minded robotic mission of some sort of California governor. The best way to get through this will be to breathe deeply and force yourself to remember what it was like to be filled from toe jam to brain pan with tar. Make sure you have something to hold in your hands. Remember how you used to pant after walking to the bathroom. Remind yourself how out-of-breath you were after the last time you got laid, if you can remember that far back. Whatever you do, don’t “just have one” today. No matter what I may have said in the past. You can’t do it.
You may be able to re-introduce marijuana back into your routine today if you feel you are ready. I know that smoking a J will make you want to smoke a square, but if you concentrate, you might be able to find that you don’t need the latter at all. In fact, smoking pot can actually be more enjoyable without the cigarette, and the few puffs of weed will satisfy your oral fixation quite nicely.
All in all, with a little concentration and focused self-hatred, you may be able to make it through today. If so, you are halfway to freedom. Horrible, horrible freedom.
When you wake up today after a fitful, feverish, sweaty, semi-lucid bout of unsatisfying sleep, your head will be stuffy and heavy. Your ears will be clogged. Your nose clamped shut, and your head foggy with leftover nightmares. But get up anyway and draw a hot shower because good news is on the way: Today you will expel your weight in mucus.
If you have a Neti Pot or SinuFlush or some other way to shoot salinated water up your nose, get it out, because you’ll want to have it on hand. As soon as you hit the shower, start by closing a nostril and blowing the other one out into the drain. Switch nostrils and repeat. Now go back to the original nostril. It will be full again. Blow. Switch to the second nostril. It too has refilled. Blow. Switch back and repeat. After you have blown each nostril 45 to 70 times, you will notice the amount of accumulated material start to curtail. Use the Neti Pot in each nostril and hold the saline water in the back of your head. Swish your head around to loosen up whatever’s in there. Work your jaw up and down to clear the duct in the back of your throat. Pop your ears to open up the ducts to your ear drums. Expel the saline. Repeat. Blow each nostril another 30 to 40 times. Stop. Take a breath.
After about an hour of the most disgusting shower of your life you will notice something. First you will notice that you are almost completely covered in mucus. But more importantly you will notice that your head is lighter. Your breath is deeper. Even your hearing has improved.
After you get out of the shower, you will feel amazing. Try walking up some stairs. You should now be able to almost make it to the top without stopping to pant. Take it all in. This is how it will theoretically feel to be a non-smoker. Don’t get used to it, because in about 25 minutes, you’ll once again be 90% full of mucus, but if you keep after it with more naps, followed by more showers, followed by naps, followed by showers, for the rest of the day (and possibly well into the night,) you will eventually be hale, strong and well on your way to being smoke-and-mucus-free.
I forgot to mention, occasionally when you quit smoking, you get really sick. It probably has something to do with your immune system buckling under the stress of the Great Toxic Flush that is starting to happen, but whatever the cause, you may suddenly wake up feeling like each cell in your body has been individually beaten with a pipe-wrench. Your throat will hurt, your head will hurt and your chronic hacking cough will hurt. On the plus side, you’re not going to want to smoke today, but you’re also not going to want to move.
The best thing to do is to just lay low, until this thing blows over. If you’ve been following along with this system with me, then you will have quit your job and dumped your Significant Other by now, so you don’t really have any pressing need to go outside anyway.
Take several showers today, and really get the steam going. Lots of disgusting things are going to come sneezing, coughing, oozing, dripping and blowing from your various orifices. Don’t fight it, set that shit free.
Most importantly take it easy today. Between showers you should nap and watch a bunch of free Netflix movies. You might want to take an ibuprofen, and though you won’t want to smoke pot, if you have any pot butter, today is the day to eat some. Also, you should probably avoid writing in your blog, or it will just come out all combobulated.
Just wait this thing out, when it’s over you’ll be well into a new life of horrible, horrible non-smoking.
“This was to be my final hit. But let’s be clear about this: there’s final hits and final hits. What kind was this to be?” – Renton from Trainspotting
If, like me, you needed just one final hit after that last blog entry, then like me, you probably bought a pack, went to a party and chain-smoked until dawn. Then you probably woke with a sobbing hangover and sandpapered-raw sore throat, probably swore renewed fealty to the idea of quitting smoking, and probably fell back asleep for most of the day. Then you would most likely woke up today with a hacking cough and bitter hatred for the image of the ash-dappled tar coursing through every system of your body. Once again it is Day 2.
The interesting thing about today is how horrifyingly unthinkable the act of filling your lungs with another corpulent blast of fetid black smoke seems at the beginning of the day, versus how absolutely appealing it will sound by the end. This is the danger time. Your mind will spend one hundred and fifty-eight percent of its psychic energy convincing you that you need to smoke something tonight. You can use lozenges, sweets, the patch, whatever you want, but this intra-cerebral war is going to happen. Either you’ll power through or you won’t.
There is a switch somewhere in your head that flips back and forth between repulsion and attraction to this nicotine. Over the course of a week it might flip back and forth nearly a dozen times. The only redeeming hope is that at some point, after several years of constant and vigilant quitting, you will conjure and nourish this hatred of cigarette smoke – and the things it does to your body, mind and life – then somehow keep the switch from flipping back.
Quitting smoking is like saying goodbye to a dying friend. Both have given you countless moments of happiness, and you know it’s going to end at some point, but you want to put off the day as long as possible. You know you can go without seeing that friend for days or even weeks in a row, but the prospect of never seeing that person again is terrifying, and when the end does come, you would do anything in your power to push it back just one more day. I’ve quit smoking and I’ve seen friends die, both more than once, and though it’s much more emotionally devastating to lose someone you love, at least it’s mercifully out of your control.
You know you have to stop smoking, and it’s not even that hard to do for a day or two, but when you put away that last smoke and you realize that you will never feel that feeling again, that’s when you get sad. If you could run to the corner bodega and purchase another two days with that friend for under ten bucks, you’d do it. And so we do.
Quitting is a mind-fuck because when after you haven’t smoked for a week, you realize that you CAN go a week without smoking. It’s not even that difficult if you set your mind to it. Therein lies the trap. Because if you know you can easily quit again tomorrow, you might as well buy a pack today.
This attitude will get you through your twenties and half of your thirties, but there comes a point when you realize that you could very likely be somebody else’s next dying friend if you keep this up. You have to assign an urgency to this quitting thing, even if it takes you ten years to get it right. When you backslide, don’t hate yourself, but do hate those stupid fucking cigarettes, and hate what they’re doing to you. Hate the smell of your breath and your clothes. Hate the burning throat and cough. Hate the money you lose. Hate that you can’t walk to the second floor or run to the bus without panting like a husky in the desert. Remember through it all: you are not a smoker who is trying to quit. You are a non-smoker who occasionally has a relapse.
At some point you’re going to have to live without your friend. And it’s going to have to be by choice.
If you make it until evening tomorrow before having a complete melt-down in public and/or buying a pack of cigarettes, you’re off to a good start. If you’re like me you’ll end Day 2 doing both. Don’t beat yourself up. Finish what you need to finish and plow ahead. You’ve only been a non-smoker for two days now, you’re not going to be good at it yet. Just keep practicing. Don’t call it a comeback.
Ok, it’s long past time to quit smoking again….. for the last time………. for now.
Now that you don’t have a job or a girlfriend, and your lungs are aching from religiously smoking unfiltered Bali Shag rollies for a week, you should be ready. In fact, you might be surprised how easy it is to wake up and not smoke today. You’ll be tempted to sneak that morning cigarette before you jump in the shower, but as long as you don’t make coffee, you’ll be able to resist. If you feel weak, just concentrate on the gunk filling up the tubes in your sinus cavity, and your wheezy, painful, low-capacity breathing. Think of that morning cigarette not as a womb-like giver of warmth and comfort, but as a thick paste of moist black ash poured into your upturned nostrils.
It’s vitally important that you talk yourself out of the first cigarette, because once the day has been tainted, that day is lost. No amount of black-ash-imagining will stop you from smoking if you’ve already marked off today as a smoking day. So as soon as you get up, make it a non-smoking day.
Breathe deeply in the shower and let your head fill up with cleansing steam. Imagine toxins streaming out of your body, your lungs pink and vital, your muscles firm with youthful promise. Try not to think of your body as it really is, paunchy and dirt-filled and creaky as an old door. Reality will not help you quit smoking, self-delusion will get you a long way.
You’ll need to keep something around to put in your mouth today. Make sure to keep gum nearby. Let yourself snack on sweet and salty snacks, keep a drink constantly on-hand, suck your thumb, fellate something, whatever helps. If you’ve been on this system as long as I have, you’ll probably have some nicotine gum or lozenges laying around, or a spare patch. Use them all. By the end of today, you may be a short-tempered, compendium of tics and raw nerves, but you’ll be a day closer to being smoke-free.
Ok, so let’s call today a prep day. Instead of buying a regular pack of cigarettes this time, get a pack of rollies. If you start rolling your own, you’ll instantly cut back on frequency due to their complete disgustingness. Top and Bugler tobaccos are exceptionally crappy, but Bali Shag is recommended for sheer high-impact painfulness. One Bali Shag is hand roll is like an entire Cuban cigar compressed into two inches of death.
Since rollies are several times stronger than normal smokes, your morning light will last you well into the afternoon, and you should be able to get to sundown on three or less. Even though you’ll be smoking a lot less, you will start to feel like crap almost immediately. Your lungs will hurt and your sinus cavity will fill up like a pothole, and when you walk upstairs, you’re gonna feel it. This is normal. After a few days of this, you’ll be ready to quit like never before.
Since the act of rolling the cigarette takes some time, you’ll condition yourself not to just whip out a smoke and light it up. Setting aside the time to roll and smoke, makes the act more of a ritual and less of a crutch. Before you know it, with very little effort, you will be down from a pack a day to 3-5 high-octane lung burners. And then we quit.
Sometimes, when you are quitting smoking, you will fall into a catatonic stupor for about a week. And smoke a shit-pound of cigarettes. This is normal. Things that may bring about such an incident include: dating a smoker, and dating a smoker who isn’t very nice to you. In either case you might need to start the system over again from the beginning.
In the former case you might want to quit the system for a while until you, as a couple, are at a point in the relationship where you both decide to try to quit together. This will be a beautiful and momentous occasion, doomed as it is.
In the latter case, you have more of a problem. You’re gonna have to cut that shit off. Your first instinct may be to be straightforward about it and send an email saying “you’re mean,” but that just invites a conversation that will make you want to smoke a shit-pound of cigarettes. The best course of action in such a case is to just say something nice and walk away.
You’re going to have to smoke a few packs while this plays out. We’ll start again in a few days.
 They’re light.
Ok, you had one cigarette last night, and if you’re like me, today you’re going to go out and get drunk and bum about five smokes off a friend, but don’t lose hope. Just concentrate on not buying a pack and keep telling yourself you’re a non-smoker until you goddamn well believe it.
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