35. Quitting Smoking

Whoo baby, that was a long semester. I haven’t updated this thing for the past few months due to a dancing plethora of stressors and real-life things that needed more attending to than my charming little rage-blog. But now the school year is over, my workload has been slashed dramatically, and I can once again fling hot fire all over the interwebs. Aren’t you lucky, beautiful summer reader?

With the dawning of the summer, I am trying to make good on a resolution I have made so many fucking times to quit smoking before I graduate from college and enter the real world where I assume that my life decisions will start having actual consequences. I’m proud to say that I haven’t had a smoke in four days and I’m almost to the point where I don’t want to brutally murder everyone around me with an axe.

Almost.

I’ve been a smoker for the past five years. To date, it’s the most significant non-familial relationship I’ve ever had. Schools, cities, friends, and lovers have come and gone in my life but cigarettes have always been there. That’s not to say it has been a totally positive relationship. Even at my chain-smoking best, there was still an underlying guilt complex behind the entire activity. Like accepting a blowjob from an ex that you know will steal your silverware afterwards. We’ve all been there. I’ve been able to swallow (*rimshot*) my guilt for the past five years, but there comes a time in every person’s life when they have to delete that ex’s number from their phone, leave town, and really make a conscious effort to protect their lungs silverware. I’ll stop with the metaphors now.

This may come as a shock to you (you being a non-smoker), but quitting smoking is really fucking hard. How hard? Somewhere between solving a Rubix Cube blindfolded with one hand and trying to set the world record for the three-legged race while tied to the World’s Fattest Man.

The worst people in the world are the non-smokers who, when you reach out to them for support, will tell you it’s “easy”. That you can quit “just like that”. It’s “all about willpower”. Fuck you. You know not of what you speak. Don’t even try. A non-smoker trying to talk to you about dealing with addiction is like a snake trying to teach you how to hula-hoop.

Don’t believe me? Here’s a graph.

On a side note, how does one define “caffeine intoxication”?

Notice that nicotine’s dependence level is higher than heroin. You know heroin, right? The substance for which Jennifer Connelly was willing to commit self-sodomy in front of a cheering crowd to attain in Requiem for a Dream?

Nicotine is more addicting and habit-forming than that. And it’s legal.

That’s why quitting smoking is so difficult. It doesn’t feel like a lifestyle choice. It’s not like choosing to wake up earlier in the morning or eating more vegetables. It’s like amputating a part of your own loved and treasured self and burying it in the yard and praying to God that it won’t wake up in the middle of the night, Pet Semetary-style, and devour your loved ones.

I know this because I have tried to cut back or quit approximately 162 times. However, that does not stop me from emulating my spirit animal (Wil E. Coyote) and once again getting back on the horse.

How do I hate thee? Let me count the ways:

1. Nothing is good and fuck the world.

Any smoker in the middle of a jones can attest to this one. When your brain doesn’t get nicotine, it shuts down the dopamine production center. That means no more happy feelings. When going through nicotine withdrawal, a smoker’s mood can only range from near-comatose apathy to sociopathic rage. Which brings me to-

2. You are a ticking time bomb.

Even the most hormonal woman in the world with the worst period of her life can’t hold a candle to the volatile mood swings of the deprived smoker. There’s so many repressed violent and bitter impulses buzzing in your brain that you’re constantly searching for any kind of justification to indulge in one of them. There is a Wendy’s in Colorado Springs that has no idea how close it came yesterday to having its entire juvenile workforce beaten to death with the cash register or thrown headfirst into the deep-fryer after I discovered, too late, that they had somehow burnt my spicy chicken sandwich to an inedible crisp.

On a completely unrelated note, HOW THE FUCK DO YOU FUCK UP A FUCKING SPICY CHICKEN FUCKING SANDWICH!? FUCK! I COULD MAKE THAT SHIT IN MY FUCKING SLEEP!

See what I mean?

3. You have nobody. 

There is no reliable support group when you’re quitting smoking. You have to avoid your smoker friends because you never know when you might have a random slip in will-power. You could take the precaution to warn your friends that you’re quitting, but it will inevitably lead to this exchange:

Me: Hey, can I have a cigarette?

Friend: Aren’t you quitting?

Me: [Picks up the nearest sharp object]

Friend: [Hands out cigarette]

Perhaps you could hang out with your other friends who have quit, or are trying to quit smoking. Of course, this carries the risk of mutual reminiscence followed by inevitable longing, indulgence, and finally guilt. Just like the silverware-stealing-blowjob-ex.

And we’ve already established that your non-smoker friends are a bunch of pink-lunged maggots. So let’s leave them out of this.

4. Drinking is a no-no.

At least during the initial stages. I have created a model for this that I have entitled the Albaugh Cycle of Vicious Cycles.

  1. Initial drink
  2. Urge to smoke
  3. Bum from friends or drive to gas station regardless of intoxication level
  4. Smoke
  5. Drink more to rid self of smoker guilt
  6. Smoke more because you’re fucking drunk
  7. Hangover
  8. Smoke because you’re hungover

This is a well-documented and tested model that I have practiced in the field many, many times. I’ve submitted it to the Guggenheim.

Now, all of this may seem extremely discouraging to anyone reading this that may be thinking of quitting. Don’t get the wrong idea, folks. My brain may be filled with thoughts and emotions worse than I ever would have thought imaginable, but you really do feel your body recover exponentially each day. All that nasty tar and that smoker cough may not clear up overnight, but it will eventually. And don’t put too much pressure on yourself, either. You never signed any contract. It’s okay to slip every once in a while. Just make sure to keep an eye on your silverware.

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