It’s been a long time since I’ve posted any updates on my attempt to quit smoking. That’s a very good thing, because that means I’ve been able to break free of the smoking compulsion and it no longer occurs to me to talk about it. But in speaking with my wife the other day, we realized that I must be getting close to the one-year mark, and so I checked the blog, and lo and behold, today is the day!
So, what does it feel like to be one year smoke free? What have I learned? I thought I’d share a few observations, once again, in the hope that someone else who is thinking about quitting might find this useful. Don’t expect an Oprah-style miracle story, cuz it ain’t like that.
First of all, don’t believe the hype. You will not find yourself compelled to compete in a decathlon, climb mountains or win the Iditarod simply because you quit smoking. I’m the same lazy bastard I’ve always been, and in fact we even tried doing the gym thing and it lasted all of a few months. Frankly, the whole “food tastes better” canard is a load of shit, too.
But then again, in quitting I gained all of about 5 pounds, so the whole weight-gain thing is a pile, too. Keep that in mind. If you can’t lose 5 pounds then you’re just lazy. . . like my chubby ass, which is how you ended up a smoker in the first place, right?
All that really matters is that yes, you will live longer as a non-smoker provided you avoid getting shot, you eat healthy and in moderation, you don’t have any preexisting conditions, are extremely careful with the blowdryer around the bathtub, ALWAYS look both ways before crossing the street, you never ever poke with the Q-tip and you just go around the inside of the ear, and fate keeps you away from the next FDA fuckup concerning the lettuce you’ve been eating in an attempt to eat healthier. I think we can all agree, that’s totally worth it!
And at least for those of us in New York State, there is simply no way around the fact that life is just considerably cheaper when you don’t smoke. Cigarettes in NYS cost about $4.50 a pack, last I knew, but they’re probably more now. A pack a day habit (with the inevitable weekend bump) is good for an extra $40 bucks a week in incidental spending, almost $2100 a year. The irony here is that you’re probably more likely to smoke if you’re poor than if you’re rich, yet you’re less likely to be able to afford it. I’m thinking particularly about kids, here, because as you grow up, you make more money and at some point, quit smoking. I’ll bet if you wanted to be a complete asshole about this smoking thing, you could make some sort of populist argument that smoking is a chain on the working class. Simmer down and save it for another blog.
The other thing you gain is time. Holy crap, the time! My friends who quit smoking before me always said that you never really knew how much time in your day was wasted smoking, and it’s the truth. One nice thing about that: it makes you appear more productive at work, giving you time to blog about shit. Personally, this has been the biggest gain for me. When I’m home or working, I don’t need to take a break from my coding to go smoke.
And the only real disadvantage has been that I’m no longer in the cynical smoker’s loop. I miss those guys. Now, I’m stuck talking to Little Miss Healthy Lungs and Sunshine, who you just want to throttle. Actually, I don’t know who that is, I’m just making her up. But I miss bitching about work with the other smokers, there’s no doubt about that.
The thing I’m most proud of is the fact that, despite having quit smoking, I haven’t turned into one of those “Born-Again Non-Smoker” assholes. God, I hate them. When I smoked, I would have been the first to lightup the minute one of those guys would start harping on the whole “oh, man! You gotta quit smoking” bit. In fact, I frequently did. I’m here to tell you that I’m proud to have accomplished what I did, not interested in going back, happy with the way things are, but that’s it.
There were no worlds of wonder that opened before my eyes in that magical moment I quit smoking. There will be no parade. It was a lifestyle choice I made, same as when I started smoking. If asked I always say I’m glad to not smoke, but I don’t preach.
My advice to smokers looking to quit? Divide and conquer. If you can stop smoking in the house, stop smoking in the car, or whatever, that’s WAY better than trying to quit all together at once. What you’re doing is breaking a cycle and eliminating triggers that ordinarily are so compelling when you try to quit. Try not smoking for an hour after a meal, as one idea. Once you decide to quit completely, the less triggers you have, the less temptation.
Anyway, that’s the deal. And this is likely to be the last entry on smoking you’ll ever see on this blog. Good luck to any of you who try to quit.