Friday, October 15, 2010

Eating cake that I also have

You didn’t really think it would be a clean, smooth, flawless break, did you? That’s just not how life works. Not real life at least.

Yes, I’m talking about the quitting smoking again. It’s still a big ball of un-fun.

According to my mother, her father quit smoking cold turkey, no questions asked, in like 1957 because there was an article in Life or Harpers or something that indicated that smoking may lead to consumption or typhoid fever. From what I understood, he finished the article, put out his Camel Shortie, crushed the remainder of his pack like it was the skull of a communist sympathizer, and never gave a second thought to the evils of tobacco for the rest of his days.

I’m not as hard core as my grandpa, either grandpa, or your grandpa come to think of it. No, I come from the latter end of the generation that determined that $800 is a fair price to pay for a stroller, and that their offspring will thus be stroller-bound until they are 11. If I ever have kids, I’d like to day I’d push them around in a shopping cart. Good thing I won’t have too. Right now, as we speak, some hipster mom in Brooklyn is spending nearly a grand on a stroller. Realistically, the soonest point in which I’ll need a stroller is 5 years from now, in which case I can buy that very stroller from said hipster for 38 bucks.

I digress. I don’t care about strollers. They don’t exist in Korea, which is another thing I like about living here. Kids who are old enough to not be carried fucking walk.

My first day not smoking was horrible. I reached for cigs that weren’t there every five minutes. Break times at work seemed pointless. Honestly, I even enjoyed work, because work is a time in which I’m used to not smoking (outside of breaks.) My first week didn’t get much better. Out of principle, I went 2 whole weeks before I bought some bullshit non-tobacco (but still bad for you) flavorless herbal cigs, and 3 weeks before I bothered to bum a real cigarette. It was all I thought about. It was, as I so often framed it, a break up.

I couldn’t go on like that forever. I started degrading, just a little. I’d bum one, maybe two smokes every Saturday night. My America trip drew closer. I knew that I couldn’t avoid smoking at all in Lawrence. Knowing this, I got a little sloppier here, bumming smokes on a Wednesday night.

Imagine that you had been married for 17 years, only the wife never aged that whole time. You divorced. You and the wife’s song was, say, “Everlong”. Your movie was “Casablanca”. Your honeymoon was in Paris. Imagine you then went to Paris on business. While walking around Paris, “Casablanca” was projected onto the side of every building. At the same time, “Everlong” was being piped onto every square inch of the city. Would you call her? For me, that’s like smoking at the airport. The airport is me and Madame Tobacco’s song. It’s our movie. It’s our town. On my flight from Seoul to Tokyo, I didn’t smoke at the Seoul airport to prove a point. I did smoke at the Tokyo counterpart to prove another. On my next layover, in Minneapolis, I was happy I quit, because I didn’t have the option to smoke without fantastic inconvenience, so I opted not to. Trust me, had this flight been in June, I would have smoked there. After all, I once smoked in the customs area of O’hare before going through immigration, which I’m pretty sure is a federal offense. Upon landing at KCI, I still didn’t, maybe to prove another point.

I spent 3 nights in Lawrence. Smokes were had.

I spent the rest of my American vacation in Florida. On most days there, I had zero cigarettes. On only two or three occasions, I bummed one, and each time I was delighted to discover that it was a Newport.

I flew back to Korea. I bummed a smoke in Tampa, another Newport. I had a layover in Detroit, and again smoking would have been near-impossible, but I totally would have done it in June. I got on the longest flight of my life - DTW-ICN. I spent over 14 hours on the plane, over 13 hours of which was in the air. While a flight of this magnitude was hardly a day at Disney World (something I had recent experience in) it was far easier to deal with than my much shorter Seoul-Kuala Lumpur flight a few months ago. Did I bum a smoke when I landed? 14 hours yo, 14 hours. C Everett Coop would have done the same.

Upon my return to Korea, I’ve found a weird kind of peace. I’ve suddenly become the impossible, the “smoke what I drink” guy, the Eric or Wiley style of smoking. I smoked too much last Friday. I was embarrassed. My shirt reeked, which was something I’d never noticed before. Still, I didn’t smoke all day on Saturday, even though I drank all day on Saturday. No cigs until the sun went down. Once it was dark, I smoked even more than I did on Friday. Horrible. Obviously, I’d crossed a line, and I was back in the full time smoker fold.

Only I wasn’t. I didn’t smoke on Sunday. Or Monday. Or at all, until once while writing this very post. I also didn’t crave cigarettes to any important degree at work, or while watching TV, or at any point during the week.

This arrangement is perfect.

I have 17 years of smoking karma. I’ve bummed out 10-fold more cigarettes than I’ve bummed.

I don’t expect it to last. Like any friends with benefits situation, something will have to eventually give. I hope it’s later rather than sooner though. I love being a smoker at the bar and a straight non-smoker at work. It’s awesome to play video games and watch TV at home smoke-free while enjoying the occasional blog-writing cig. Least relevant but most powerful, it’s amazing to avoid the worst part of flying (the rabid desire for cigarettes) while enjoying the payoff smoke at the airport.

1 comment:

eric said...

the exalted position of the drunk smoker is a tiny club indeed. good luck on your journey and may you fly like us, the eagles