Thursday, July 7, 2011

Chris quits smoking.

Hi there, loyal reader!  I am so happy to be here with you; metaphorically spooning you atop a silken bed of topical comedy writing.  As promised, I have been taking some extended breaks from the blog to enjoy the summer months.  Don’t judge me.  So far I have chased lightning bugs, rode my wagon down a hill, splashed in a stream, relaxed in my tree fort, and had adventures with my anthropomorphic tiger pal, Hobbes.  I certainly haven’t been spending most of my time in a cold, fluorescent-lit, gray office.  That would be, like, SO depressing.

My summer?
Speaking of the trials of adulthood, I also quit smoking cigarettes a little over a month ago.  I know, I know, I know…I’m great.  To be completely honest, I‘ve had some crazy writer’s block since I quit.  Please, please forgive the infrequency of my posts and I promise to start churning them out again in the immediate future.  I have been smoking on and off (mostly on) since I was a college freshman.  I certainly don’t condone smoking but it was a hectic time at school.  The warring between the campus a cappella groups (The Sing Dynasty and The Triceratones) had escalated and, in the winter of 2001, I found myself in a foxhole with a friendly baritone named Rob McKiernan.  Rob was a funny kid and he smoked like a chimney.  One cold night, Rob reached into his jacket for his pack of Luckies.  A haunting, unaccompanied rendition of Billy Joel’s “She’s Got a Way” split the crystalline air and, before I could react, an alto named Lucy DeSalves snuck up behind Rob and stabbed him through the heart with a bayonet.  Before the light left Rob’s eyes, he looked right at me and held out his hand.  Clenched between his bloody fingers was his half empty pack of Lucky Strikes.  I nodded my understanding, lit one up, and leapt from the foxhole screeching the tenor II part to “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” and hurling grenades.  God, there was so much blood that night…   Anyhow, that’s when I started smoking.  So now, 10 years later, I’m happy to write today’s entry… More than anything, my crying jag let me know EXACTLY how addicted to cigarettes I was.  After a little research, I learned that recent non-smokers go through all 7 stages of grief (shock, denial, anger, guilt, pain and sorrow, release and resolution, and return to normalcy).  Stupid Camel Lights had completely changed my brain chemistry and not having them reduced me to a quivering pile of flan.  Right then and there I decided that I was going to quit cold turkey.  My lovely girlfriend, Jenn, quit at the same time and has continued using the patch to great effect.  I put a rubber band around my wrist and I snap it every time I had a craving.  After 30+ days without a single puff I have a sizable welt but I’m feeling alright otherwise.  Here are a handful of the terrible, terrible withdrawal symptoms that I've been enjoying for the last month:

Craving for tobacco:        Few days, up to months; in some cases lifelong
Dizziness:                         Few days
Insomnia:                          1 week
Headaches:                      1 to 2 weeks
Chest discomfort:            1 to 2 weeks
Constipation:                    1 to 2 weeks
Irritability:                           2 to 4 weeks
Fatigue:                             2 to 4 weeks
Cough or nasal drip:        Few weeks
Lack of concentration:     Few weeks
Hunger:                              Up to several weeks
Depression:                      Few weeks, up to months

Still better than smoking...

Ugh.  It has not been fun.  But the upside is that I think about smoking less and less and less and less and less.  Here’s the one piece of advice that I’ll give to the youngsters who are thinking about smoking for the first time: DON’T.  Does smoking make you look cool?  Yes.  Of course it does!  But it is also really bad for you and it is REALLY hard to stop once you get old enough to wise up.  Never smoke cigarettes…get a kickass tattoo instead!  Make sure to let your parents know that I said it was okay for you to get a tattoo.  They’ll be cool with it!  Alright, Inter-Nutter-Butters.  I am, as always, your intrepid (nicotine-free) guide and I’ll see you back here soon!!!

Gone...all gone...

Chris Quits Smoking!

Let’s kick things off by getting acquainted with the enemy.  People started smoking tobacco in shamanistic rituals around 5000 BC.  Another notable invention that year was fucking farming.  The invention of FUCKING FARMING!  This means that as soon as people started growing tobacco (or growing anything, for that matter) they also started burning it and inhaling the smoke.  It’s believed that ancient people threw some tobacco leaves on a fire and immediately realized that they wanted to keep throwing tobacco leaves on a fire (usually after spirited love-making or a delicious meal).  The smoking of tobacco was already commonplace by the time Christopher Columbus arrived in the Americas.  Here’s an actual quote from one of Columbus’s scouts:

“Men with half-burned wood in their hands and certain herbs to take their smokes, which are some dry herbs put in a certain leaf, also dry, like those the boys make on the day of the Passover of the Holy Ghost; and having lighted one part of it, by the other they suck, absorb, or receive that smoke inside with the breath, by which they become benumbed and almost drunk, and so it is said they do not feel fatigue. These, muskets as we will call them, they call tabacos. I knew Spaniards on this island of Española who were accustomed to take it, and being reprimanded for it, by telling them it was a vice, they replied they were unable to cease using it. I do not know what relish or benefit they found in it."
Look at this asshole!
Like all people from the distant past, Columbus’s scout was simply too stupid to understand the addictive properties of tobacco.  You can only be *so* smart and still poop in a hole every day!  Columbus brought the custom of tobacco smoking with him and in no time it had surpassed war-mongering and prostitute murdering as Europe’s vice of choice.  Tobacco smoking was widely practiced in France in 1845 when the term “cigarette” or “small cigar” was termed.  Smoking in America peaked in 1965 when about half of the population smoked every day.  Like Mad Men!  Nowadays, the percentage is closer to 25.  Even so, a quarter of the population isn’t shortening their lifespans for the fun of it.  Cigarettes are CRAZY ADDICTIVE.  And guess what?  Cigarette smoking is not good for your health!!!  I know, it was news to me too!  Science tells me that every cigarette smoked decreases the human lifespan by about 11 minutes.  I did the math using my trusty desktop calculator and the lyrics from RENT and it looks like I’ve lost just about a year’s worth of my life. 

Yeah, that’s not so great.  Hopefully I lost a crappy year…like 5th grade.  That’s how aging works, right?  But it’s not a surprise that smoking is detrimental to your health.  I’d like to give a firsthand account of what it’s like to quit smoking.  Well, allow me to, ever so gently, place my description into a nutshell for you.  Quitting smoking is awful.  Really, truly, tremendously awful.  I started this noble experiment about a month ago while using the Nicoderm CQ patch.  Things were going smoothly for a few days so I decided to go without the patch just to see what would happen.  Welllllll…bad things happened!  I watched the last few episodes of LOST season one with my girlfriend that day and I cried like a frilly, little milkmaid.  I rarely cry at funerals of friends and relatives but without nicotine I was crying about a make-believe hatch.  Sidebar: Walt!!! 

Why is this so sad?!?

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