the numbers

Just to give you an update: the post I’m working on now has languished in WordPress for over a month, consists of 1401 words in 15 paragraphs, and is only half finished. I believe this situation to be indicative of patterns that exist elsewhere in my life.

At this point I’m comprised of 87% nonsmoker and 13% smoker. I didn’t smoke at all for 21 days, and then, sitting on my patio talking on the phone after a particularly difficult day at work, I lit a cigarette. Smoking it felt unfamiliar, like my hand belonged to someone else, like my lungs weren’t mine, like the smoke in them shouldn’t exist somehow.

So now I smoke a cigarette every two or three days, or sometimes two or three cigarettes every day, but I always make sure I’m alone. I put each cigarette out when it’s 3/4 finished and think to myself, “That wasn’t terribly pleasant, now was it?” Then sometimes I light another one.

When I quit on March 15, I had 2.5 packs left over. Of those 2.5 packs, 6 cigarettes are now left. The reckoning will come when I smoke those 6 cigarettes (over the next 2-13 days). If I want to smoke any more, I’ll have to go buy more, and I’d rather not do that.

The point is that it’s much harder to write when I’m not smoking.

5 thoughts on “the numbers

  1. It’s really interesting how that works. For me, I definitely think I wrote better when I was depressed, and find that the same still holds true when I’m in a sour mood. It’s really tempting to just give in to that part of me so that I can continue doing what I like. I think it just comes down to adapting your writing to your new you. But I’ve been reading your blog for years, Alison, and no matter what point in your life or subject matter, I’ve liked it tremendously. Take as long as you need, with both quitting smoking and writing–you’ll have plenty of people here ready when you’re ready.

  2. Sadly, I’d rather you not smoke or smoke less, even if it meant less writing on the site for me to read. As Rod and Todd say, “smokers are jokers.” (I mean that in the least judgmental, non-Eddie Haskel way.)

  3. Sounds like me the first time I quit. I smoked in secret so my wife wouldn’t find out. I laugh now thinking about it cause that smell can’t be hidden.

    Keep at it, eventually you will get there. Sometimes our journey leads us places we didn’t expect so that we can get to where we need to go.

  4. I ended my long relationship with nicotine one spring about 6 weeks before my roughest graduate-level finals. I couldn’t string two thoughts together much less an entire extemporaneous essay on the strengths and weaknesses of geostatistical methods. I bombed. Bad.
    It takes time but the wonderously beautiful thing that is nicotine addiction can be overcome. I traveled through all phases of wanting to be near smokers for the vicarious high of second hand smoke to tolerating smokers since I was one for such a long time. Now, after 5 years, I can’t abide the smoke at all or the people who need it.
    The writing was the hardest part, but you can do it. You will need to be away for more than 21 days though…more like 21 months. But once you’re there, you’re free.

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