things I miss about smoking

1. All the delicious cigarettes.

2. Smoking and driving. I used to think I loved to drive, but now I think what I really liked was smoking while driving. Driving’s boring now, and every trip feels like it takes an hour.

3. Smoking while driving and listening to a really good song on my iPod. Since quitting, I’ve had to listen to NPR instead of my iPod while I drive. The change of routine has helped me think less about the fact that I’m not smoking, since a) NPR requires more of my concentration, and b) I don’t have to hear the same songs I’ve heard before and think, “I smoked a cigarette the last time I heard this song in the car.”

The upside is that thanks to NPR, I now know all about hyperinflation in Zimbabwe, Sarkozy’s visit to Britain, online curriculum for high-school students, and the ramifications of the San Francisco plastic bag ban, and I also know how much Tracey Ullman hates bloggers, pimply fucks named Craig who live in their parents’ basements and use their blogs to say that they wouldn’t sleep with Heather Locklear because she’s too old. The downside is that going sixty-five on the freeway and enjoying a delicious cigarette while listening to the Pixies was fucking fantastic.

4. Smoking with friends. We went roller skating on Tuesday night, and when we all walked out of the building, the first thing that happened was that we noticed the ambulance and all the police cars in the parking lot, but the second thing that happened was that two of my friends lit cigarettes. I really, really wanted to stand there and smoke with them and talk about hey did somebody fall down on the rink or was there a knife fight out here or what and boy are we going to be sore tomorrow from all this skating, but instead I took a long, beautiful whiff of secondhand smoke, said, “See you guys later!” and went home.

6. Smoking while talking on the phone, especially during in-depth discussions.

5. Using smoking as an excuse to move away from conversations at parties. It used to be that if I was running out of things to talk about with someone, I could just say, “Well, I’m going to go smoke a cigarette,” and then go outside and smoke a cigarette. Now I don’t know what to say. “I’m going to go get something to eat,” doesn’t work because I’m trying not to replace cigarettes with food, and “I’m going to go get a drink,” doesn’t work because drinking just makes me want to smoke.

Even better, if I didn’t want to talk to anyone at all for a few minutes, I could just go outside and stand there by myself and smoke a cigarette. If anyone saw me, it didn’t look like I was upset about something or hiding or loitering or anything, it just looked like I was very busy smoking this cigarette, thank you very much. Now I guess I’m going to have to become a loiterer, or that girl who always has to go get something from her car, or a person who takes forever in the bathroom.

7. Smoking while sitting on my patio, having a glass of red wine, and writing.

8. Standing outside with the dog at night when a cold front is coming in and the wind is blowing through the leaves on the trees in that crisp way that lets me know I’m going to need a jacket in the morning. And smoking.

Public service announcement:

Today is Day 13 of Not Smoking. I’ve been able to get this far for two reasons:

1. I was sick with the flu for eight of those days.

2. I am sticking to this philosophy, telling myself that if I crack and smoke a cigarette, it does not ruin all my efforts to quit. Trying to quit smoking is really good for me even if I don’t do it perfectly. I’m willing to bet that putting a lot of pressure on myself to be the perfect quitter would have made me crack by now, but I have not cracked. Giving myself permission to fail is the thing that has given me the strength to succeed so far.

My point is this: in the future, you may see me smoking a cigarette. Maybe I’m smoking because I’ve cracked and let myself have one even though I didn’t want to; or maybe I’m smoking because I’m hoping that this cigarette will be the LAST ONE, the one that will make me hate it forever; or maybe I’m smoking because, fuck, I really enjoy smoking, and having just one cigarette every now and then is better than having a pack a day. If you see me smoking a cigarette for one of these reasons or any other reason, please do not ask me about the cigarette or say anything like, “But I thought you quit!”

I know. I’m trying.

20 thoughts on “things I miss about smoking

  1. Quitting smoking sucks. There’s no way around that. I did it pretty much the way you describe here. I was sick for a week, then just kept going with the not-smoking-thing. 6 years later, I’m happily a non-smoker. And, oddly enough, a runner (something that would not have even been imaginable back in my smoking days). I agree though – I try to never say never, ever. (ha!)

  2. Brilliant post. I think that allowing ourselves room to fail is key in most endeavors. Good luck in yours!

  3. Congrats, and good luck. I carried a pack of cigarettes in my pocket with the trusty zippo for 3 months after I quit. Some how, knowing I had them with me helped me not crave them so bad. Now three years later I have only smoked two times. Those weren’t full cigarettes either, they were puffs off of other peoples.

    Just make sure you pick yourself up, and dust yourself off so to speak if you do have one. giving yourself leniency is the only way in my mind. Just don’t give too much leniency.

  4. Half a pack in the glove compartment in the car, and the last three packs from my last carton in the cupboard. I can’t throw them away yet.

  5. You rock! I’m still on the “trying to quit” wagon myself. I love that giving yourself permission to fail has given you strength!

  6. #4 and #5 were, are, big ones for me (it’s been ~4 months). i really, really loved smoking outside with friends, and have decided that ducking outside without technically having a cigarette is OK. except for that night in the first week when i started unconsciously following my friend’s secondhand smoke around on the sidewalk, until he broke down and confessed that he was running from his own farts. that was…humbling.

    as for The Pause That Refreshes (#5 and #8), i sneak out and walk around the block. i haven’t got a handy phrase for going to do it, but it looks pretty innocuous, and it calms me down.

    good luck with staying quat, alison!

  7. March 17, 2002 I had my last cigarette. I found myself standing outside in the rain with a cold and cough, smoking; and I was miserable. I took the pack, crushed the remaining (expensive) American Spirits and never looked back. I had tried to quit many times before unsuccessfully, but that time it stuck. It was one of the best decisions I made in my life, but it was something I had to do. No one can ever make you do it. You are correct that even slowing down is better than smoking as much as you may have in the past, but be careful not to give yourself and excuse to fail.

    Driving was the hardest thing for me too. That and shooting pool. The only thing I wish I had done differently was doing it sooner. It got harder each time I tried to quit.

    This is just my way of trying to offer support, so I hope that comes through. I am another example of someone who LOVED the ritual of smoking too. It will take a while, but damn it is worth it, Alison. Good luck.

  8. I’m using nicotine patches. It’s so weird because I’m not going through nicotine withdrawal… I’m going through cigarette withdrawal. It hammers home the Pavlovian triggers. I don’t know what to do while waiting for public transportation.

    I really like your blog, btw.

  9. I quit three and a half years ago because, like you, I fell ill for a while and blah blah blah…

    The bad news is that I still find myself craving a smoke- especially when I’m drinking beer or writing something complicated.

    The good news is that I have learned to enjoy coffee, thinking, stepping out at parties, and wine MORE now without smoking. I would not have believed that early in my quitting. It takes a while, but you learn to experience all those things differently and take the same (if not more) pleasure in them without the smokes.

    I’ve relapsed three times. Once I smoked all evening at a wedding because I was really drunk and it smelled good. The next day, I resumed my non-smoking status. Once I was really stressed and emotional and thought it would make me feel better. Two puffs, I choked and didn’t smoke anymore. And the last time was about a year ago. I smoked because I wanted to. It was nice, but I only needed half a cigarette and then I was finished. My husband has never been able to completely quit. He gives himself two a week. Some people can do that. Others, like me, would just spend the week waiting for the next smoke.

    You have to find your own way. Good luck!

  10. Yay Alison! good for you! I’ve quit meat and a habit i’ve had since i could find my face with the corner of a sheet, so i know what you feel. Keep it up!

  11. I remember this one time back in Lucci House when Kristen (my younger sister) was being a complete pain the ass. She was being a total witch. Just as I was about to unload on her, I remembered that she was in her 3rd or 4th week of quitting and that her mood had nothing to do with me. So I walked away that night.

    I’m positive that I was never a witch while I quit. Never. I’m absolutely positive of that. And I’m positive you’ll be in angelic spirits the whole time too!

    But, seriously, good luck.

  12. I heard part of that Tracey Ullman interview on Fresh Air the other day. I really like her. I laughed when she talked about Americans being raised to believe they are all “special,” and how that’s very different in England. Made me want to move to England. I missed the part about where she hated bloggers, though.

    I miss smoking, too. But I’m now at the point where if I smoke, it kinda makes me sick. And after you do that, oh 4 or 5 or 10 times, you eventually learn. So I guess I’m over it now.

  13. i just spent 4 days “somewhere” that smoking was NOT allowed (nor did they let you go outside…vague much? hehe).
    anyway, i refused the patch because i was convinced that i wasn’t physically addicted, and you know what, i’m not!
    but you want to guess what the first thing i did when i walked out afterwards? yup, lit right up…because i genuinely enjoy smoking. i think we’re the hardest nuts to crack.
    why does something so good, have to be soooo bad for you?

  14. Dear cigarettes, I crave you. I desire you. I love you. I worship you. You fill my life with bliss. Thank you.

  15. Intention is the most important thing. When I finally quit for good it was cold turkey coming off a nasty cold. I woke up coughing and gasping, just feeling I wasn’t getting enough oxygen. Freaked me right the hell out. In the end fear of suffocation was my motivator. In the end it was a decision, one that got easier to make. Keep quitting till your done.

  16. A girlfriend who recently quit told me she’s going to take it up again when she’s like 89. So with that in mind, its a bit more like a sabbatical instead of a forever goodbye to your best friend. So that’s gonna be my attitude, when i finally get around to doing it. Oh to be 25 and smoking carefree again…nope, it’s pathetic to take this into our 30s. Good luck and carry on!!

  17. I was never a smoker but my wife was. Going out where there are strangers is a pain now that she quit. It always used to be that she’d meet people — the cool people! — while smoking. We haven’t made any new friends since she quit.

    Just kidding. But now it’s my responsability to get drunk enough to talk to strangers…

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