Big giant head

In Other News

I'll be going on a little road trip on Saturday. Going to meet my dad in Vegas.

Beth and Zoe were thinking of coming with me, but we decided I'd go solo this time. It's a quick-hit trip -- in Saturday, out Sunday -- and it's just not worth it for them to spend 10 hours in a car with a recovering smoker who usually chainsmokes when he drives to Vegas, just to see my dad for maybe 8 hours. We'll do this again later, by airplane, when we can get there quicker and spend more time. When I'm less likely to be ... uh ... "cranky."

But as long as I'm going to be driving up I-15 through Baker, past The Booth... I figure I might stop in to say hello. Maybe I'll hang out for awhile, see if the phone rings.

Maybe you'll call?


Thursday -- August 5, 1999
Fricken fracken fargen...

Four days since I last updated. Is that too long for you? Were you getting impatient? Are you maybe a little mad at me for being so irregular? Bite me.

It's been four days. Four loooong days. 96 hours. Time enough for, oh, about 160 cigarettes at my usual rate of two packs a day. 160 cigarettes I haven't smoked. Approximately 1,298,328,008 cravings I've pushed down and ignored. Four days of not smoking. Man, this is a bitch.

I'm cranky like a mother-fucker and I feel like shit besides. This not smoking is wreaking havoc on my sleeping schedule. The second night of my no-smoking adventure I slept 10 and a half hours and still kept falling asleep all the next day. I'm tired! But for the last two nights I've been waking up every hour or so, even though I'm tired enough to sleep for 10 again. I wake up wide awake, wander the house for 10 minutes or so, go back to sleep, repeat in an hour. Really annoying.

Not smoking is doing nasty things to my digestive tract, too. I'm drinking more water so I'm peeing like a racehorse, for one thing. I actually had to interrupt myself mid-sentence in a class to run for the can yesterday. And I'm doing more than peeing, unfortunately. Remember my reference last time to Ben Stiller's Mr. Furious character in Mystery Men? Well, I had the wrong character in mind. Paul Rubens is in it too, and he plays The Spleen. That's more up my alley lately, only without the flames, thank God.

I've been through this quitting thing before. Every smoker has. We all quit all the time, whether we tell you about it or not. I used to quit a few times a day just to keep my hand in. Quit for a few hours to remind myself how hard it is, then buy another pack and start up again. The rules are pretty lax on those casual quitting episodes -- there's an amazing correllation between quitting and running out of smokes. You get to the point where you can tell yourself you've quit anytime you don't have one lit.

The longest I've ever gone was three months. I went through a work-sponsored Smokenders program and it worked pretty well. I tapered off according to plan and it was fairly painless when it came time to give them up for good. I was amazed that I'd been able to quit to easily. But then I hit three months, and I smoked one, then two, then I was back to two packs a day again.

Three months is a big speedbump when you quit smoking, apparently. That's when a huge percentage of quitters go back. Dunno why. Three days seems to be the point at which you've beaten the physical component of the addiction, but the habit side of it takes a lot longer.

I've quit for shorter periods of time using all the "aids" that are out there now: Nicorette gum, "the patch," all of it. Those worked okay for reducing the craving, but they've always seemed to me that you're not really quitting that way. Sure, you're not actually smoking, but you're still pumping nicotine into your system, and that's what you're supposed to be trying to break away from. Nobody's addicted to the process of inhaling smoke; it's what's in the smoke that keeps you coming back. I've quit that way before and always gone back -- I think because I wasn't quitting nicotine, I was quitting the nicotine's delivery system.

Well, now I've gone four days without my smokes and I feel pretty good about it. I feel lousy, but I feel good, too. In point of fact, I feel pretty damned proud of it, very holier than thou about it. I've done these four days on sheer force of will: no program, no buddy system, no patch or gum, no cheating. It's been just me vs Phillip Morris and so far I'm winning.

I don't want to jinx it by saying I'll never ever go back, but I ain't never going back. These last four days have been hell -- I've been sleeping too much, not sleeping, cranky, lethargic, I've been light-headed and can't think, I've been manic and can't stop thinking -- and I refuse to go through this again. I know that if I start smoking again, a day will come when I'll want to quit again. Quitting again will mean going through this again, and I say "fuck that." I'm pissed off, and that's always been the best motivator for anything for me.

Anger aside, I feel like it's different this time. I know I can do it -- hell, I gave up booze 12 years ago -- and this time I just know I will. I can't put it to words, it's just that there's this sense of finality to this for me. I've made up my mind, finally and for real, just like I did with booze. Time will have to prove me right, but this kind of certainty has never failed me.

Besides, I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to quit anymore.


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Copyright © 1999
Chuck Atkins