Thursday, January 13, 2011

Where there's smoke, there's usually Sma...

So for once I decided to make actual New Year's resolutions.

I resolved that should I (continue) to fail to find paid employment, I would volunteer at least two days a week at something productive. So far I'm having little trouble keeping that one. I've been volunteering at Habitat for Humanity, working on two houses here in Port Townsend, and it's FUN! I like carpentry work, when there's no foreman shouting at me, and no internalized foreman giving me crap. I get to talk to interesting people, learn heaps from a group of highly skilled and experienced master craftsmen, and feel good about how I spend my Wednesdays and Thursdays.

I resolved that I would walk/exercise more, to keep the Yankee pounds at bay, and so far that has gone pretty well too. Long beach walks, hikes, laps in the Y pool, medicine ball work-outs at home, and the occasional bout of silly-assed dancing when I'm relatively sure no one can see through the curtains are the core of my plan, although getting access to/buying/building a boat I could row out once a week and do some fishing from is also in the works.

The third resolution is the biggest, and also the hardest. I vowed, and still am vowing, to quit the cancer-sticks.


You knew there was a "but" coming, didn't you?

This one is proving difficult on a plethora of levels. I tried weaning myself down for a week (although to be fair and honest the last couple of days of said week there was no weaning) before quitting cold turkey.

That sucked so hard.

I mean really really sucked.

Like a Hoover in heat.

Thing is, I haven't gone 24 hours without a smoke since sometime in November 1994. Terrible I know, but there you have it. I made it 24 hours before succumbing in hopes of actually sleeping that night. Since then I've gone back to weaning myself off the smokes, rationing out the smaller, lighter cigs, cutting my habit from half-to-a-full pack a day down to 3-4 mini smokes a day.

The thing I find interesting is that while this makes perfect sense to me, many around me seem to feel that this is somehow the "wrong" way to do it. I can understand that, my first Cold Turkey was based on much the same thinking. Its the kind of thinking that makes people believe that if they want to loose weight, they have to starve themselves while simultaniously running a marathon every day, or that if they want to say learn a language, they must study for 8 hours a day 7 days a week to the exclusion of everything else. In essence, it is the demand that one punish oneself and make oneself miserable for the sake of a pre-determined goal.

Running Away from Utopia

Now, I've done this. It took me years to figure out that if I wanted to get in shape and stay in shape I needed to exercise (as opposed to "work out", i.e. making physical activity a part of my daily routine instead of an added "duty") enough to feel results, but not so much as to burn out and give up. Same with eating healthy, as when I went from a 2-4 liter-a-day cola habit down to maybe a liter and a half a week. Cold Turkey didn't work, but Lukewarm Chicken did.

I've smoked, daily, for 16 years. The idea that a person like me, with my need to think out my actions ahead of time as much as I do, who has relied on "smoke breaks" to deal with my nigh-clinical anxiety, and who (painfully uncool admission) still really likes to smoke, should "just quit" in a matter of days is frankly absurd. Unless one is a masochist, there's no reason to do it that way. I don't care about being "tough", I don't want to "ride it out" or "take it like a man".

I'm going to quit smoking. It will take awhile. But damnit, I've devoted so much time and effort to nicotine already, I'll be hogtied and spanked before I let my addiction make me a miserable, mean mofo to others and to myself.

I'll be nicotine free. Soon. But I'm not going to trade the stupidity of smoking for the masochism of forced virtue.

One step and a time...


u know me said...

Hi Gringo,

how is going? are u volunteering? how is live back to yankiland...

Spain still pain (and wine)
Vuelve gringo Tinto!

Amelia Ray said...

I love it! You've convinced me to give up my silly idea of learning Polish in a week. I think I'll have a cigarette instead.

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