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So it all started back in 96… but lets jump back even a tiny bit further to begin. I was the anti-smoking poster girl. Actually, I was pretty much the anti-everything poster girl. I was so good it hurt. I was vice-free. Well… except for boys. I've always been a sucker for their floppy-haired nonsense. But even with boys… I was a good girl. (OK, maybe a good girl with a bad reputation, but it was wholly undeserved!) I didn't drink. I didn't smoke. I didn't have sex. I went to church every Sunday. I was a freakin' ANGEL. And then I fell ;) But the moral of this back-story is that I was about as anti-smoking as they come, and probably pretty obnoxious about it.

I coughed and rolled my eyes at relatives who smoked. I was horrified when a few of my girlfriends lit up at the bars after Prom. When I got to college I nagged all my Freshmen friends about the dangers and horrors of smoking. I was relentless. And then, one evening at the legendary O'Briens, about 4 Alabama Slammers in, Michelle Sullivan whipped out a pack of Djarum Reds. And hers smelled sooo good, that when she offered me one – I took it. And the I proceeded to shock the hell out of her (and me) by lighting it, smoking it (although truth be told I mustn't have been inhaling because I didn't erupt instantaneously into a fit of coughing), and loooving it. I mean FUCK. With sugar dipped filters and that heavenly spiced aroma – how was I not going to love it? And so I had another. And another. Only at O'Briens, only with Michelle, but all winter break, there were delicious, delicious cloves.

Spring semester came & went with nary a puff, but oh the memory of those cloves was already etched upon my pliable teenage brain. So when summer rolled around and we were back at O'Brien's and "oh the horror!" OUT of cloves… it wasn't that huge of a leap for me to try my first Parliament Menthol Light. I don't even think I liked it. But it was minty, and made my head tingle, and it stuck. Even then, all summer long it was nighttime smoking only. The thought of inhaling hot smoke on the beach made me wretch – why would anyone ever smoke in the day time!? Ew. But that summer was intense for oh so many reasons, and I used my new habit for all it was worth. I packed my Parliaments like a champ. Upon opening a fresh pack I ceremoniously flipped one over and stuck it back in the pack where it would stay, somehow infused with "luckiness", until it was rolling around by its lonesome in the box, waiting for me to close my eyes, make a wish, and light it. And then there was the "angst" of it all… My very first chain-smoke was straight out of freaking John Hughes movie (only with a slightly less discerning soundtrack). I sat outside my bedroom window on the sidewalk, back up against the stone wall, headphones on, discman on "repeat single" nursing my freshly bruised heart with cigarettes and (dear lord) Donna Lewis' I Love You, Always, Forever. Melodramatic much? ::sigh::

By the end of the summer, I'd come down with a nasty case of mono (good god, how humiliating to have to call every boy I'd kissed in August to warn them), and so I started Sophomore year with orders from the doc to not even think about alcohol until October. School felt like a prison sentence, but cigarettes were still a relatively occasional thing, until my "haven't kissed you yet because I'm contagious, but you're so about to be my boyfriend" threw an all-night kegger – and well, what's a girl to do when she can't drink or make-out? I'll tell you - she chain smokes THREE packs of Parliaments without batting an eyelash. And while I'm fairly sure I was ill the next morning, that was the lynch pin right THERE. I was a smoker. I smoked. At parties, between classes, before exams, after dinner, after sex – I smoked. And I loved it. When I moved off campus Junior year, I moved in with three other girls and the FIRST thing we bought for the house were ashtrays. (The cute old-school metal kind with plaid beanbags underneath so that you can sit them just about anywhere and they'd stay) And that, my friends, is when the cartons started. We were a 20 minute drive from the Delaware state line & the glorious, glorious "Discount Cigarette Outlet". Cartons were something ridiculous like $22 a pop. And I started smoking non-menthols, because we'd all buy "house cartons" to share. We'd get 100's or 120's and called them "Divas". We bought Audrey Hepburn-esque holders and chain-smoked through countless viewings of Breakfast at Tiffany's. My favorite cigarette of the day became the one I'd have sitting on the couch in my bathrobe after stepping out of my morning shower –it was absolutely magical. We smoked in house, we smoked on the stoop, we smoked in bed, we smoked on the boardwalk, we all switched over to Camels and collected our Joe Cool Cash to buy… more cigarettes. We smoked in a box, we smoked with a fox, and well, you get the picture.

Then I got my first car, and a new love affair was born. Summer, Winter, rain, snow… as long as I could have the radio blasting, and a cigarette dangling in my left hand, I was golden. I felt like Keroac, I felt like I could go anywhere. This. This was what freedom was all about. Even after moving home, and cutting waaay back on my daily nicotine intake, I always had a personal smoking lounge with wheels. And that's just the way it went for years. I smoked while I was driving. I smoked at shows. Then (damn you Bloomberg!) I smoked outside shows. I made friends; I met boys, yummy boys who tasted like nicotine. And it was good. Until it wasn't. 8 years later, when I had given up my car and cut back on the shows by oh – 60%, I was down to about 2 cigarettes a day. Which was fine. Except that I'd still end up binging on them at parties and bars or whenever I was sad or stressed (or both). Oh, and they were still killing me. I found it easier and easier to go a day or two without so much as a drag. And one day, after smoking one sheerly out of habit, I realized, in disgust, that I was 30. I'd been smoking for nearly 12 years, and I wanted to quit. I never thought it would go on this long. I figured I'd grow up, get married, have kids, and basically just grow out of the habit. But smoking had become a crutch, an excuse, an addiction. I realized that I used cigarettes as a way to diffuse difficult conversations. They were a way of biting my tongue, of avoiding eye contact, of making those horribly pregnant pauses in conversation somehow seem less awkward. I was hiding behind a cloud of smoke. I had become a cliché. And so I said it out loud. I'd thought about quitting before; gone days, even a week here or there and thought, maybe that was my last pack. But I'd never announced it, never made it real. So I told my best smoking buddy, and he decided to quit with me. Then I started telling other friends that we were quitting. Then I told my parents (who practically leapt for joy) and so here I am - having finished the last of my New Year's pack, having purchased the "carpet bombing" of nicotine lozenges - 48 hours into my new life as a non-smoker, and it's really real. It's also really fucking weird.
But the lozenges are minty, and they make my head tingle, so I'm thinking… it just might stick.


( 2 spankings — spank your inner moppet )
Jan. 16th, 2008 10:58 pm (UTC)
hey, i'm turing 30 tomorrow, and also have been going through the "what the shit, i've been smoking for 12 years!" angst. let me know how those lozenges are working out; they were going to be my form of quitting-assistance.

Jan. 26th, 2008 12:44 am (UTC)
my favorite stick insect/stalk-ee/former resident of new york/ current re-resident of Chicago?

damn girl, it's been foreva-eva!

Welcome to thirty! That god awful taste in your mouth is the bitter taste of "holy crap i'm 30 how the hell did THAT happen?". Mmmn.

The lozenges, on the other hand, taste much better. I've been solid on the no ciggies for 18 days now, and i have to say - it's not as hellish as I expected. The lozenges are definitely key. They last about a half hour each, and your brain gets so buzzin with nicotine that you can't even imagine lighting up. I pop one whenever I find myself fishing for a cig and i'm good to go. My mouth is busy, my breath is minty, and then i don't think about it for a few more hours. And it's not even so bad with the drinking - which is where I thought I'd fail miserably for sure. When i finish a drink and start to get that urge to pop outside for a smoke, i pop a lozenge and order another drink. I'm on the 4mg Commits right now. and I once i get through these 3 lozenge-container-thingys, i'm stepping down to a package of the 2mg ones, and after that, I figure I'll give certs a try. That's my plan at least. So far - so awesome. The best is waking up and noticing that my hair/hat/scarf/mittens don't reek. and its pretty cool that I don't start the day hacking. and that even hangovers seem friendlier somehow. anyhow. that's my report so far. hope you had a blowout for the big 3-0 and that you're rockin it out Chi-town style.

your former stalkerette,
( 2 spankings — spank your inner moppet )