Witty indulgences

Kicking the Cigarette Habit in the Butt

October 10, 2016 • By 19 1 511

Living on an island discovered by Christopher Columbus and his mates and blogging with an American mate were two obvious reasons for me to celebrate today being the anniversary of the great navigator’s arrival to America on October 12, 1492. But I didn’t. In addition to being Columbus Day, today is also National Kick Butt Day and THAT sounded a lot more appealing to me than Columbus’s nonetheless remarkable exploits.

I had actually never heard of a Kick Butt Day. At first I thought it was some sort of an October Fool’s Day and that I’d have to kick everyone’s butt unnoticed. But after I Googled it, I understood I was supposed to kick myself in the seat of the pants. So instead of an October version of April Fool’s, was it a late New Year’s Unattainable-and-Implausible-Resolutions-List Day? That’d make sense; I always figured one’s inebriated condition on January 1st made this day the worse of all to enlist oneself to undertaking anything.

All right, so let’s work on achieving goals. For realz. Sober. Have you been meaning to start an exercise program? A diet? Are you wanting to change jobs? Do you have projects around the house you need to accomplish? (Duh!) Today is supposed to be The Day to get started. And so, I was like, OMG, okay, so where do I even begin? There were so many things.

Upon a closer look, I found out that Kick Butt Day was often associated with quitting smoking.

I don’t advertise this because when I don’t get scowled at, it’s still something I’m profoundly not proud of, but I’m a smoker. I’m just talking cigarettes here. If I don’t count sex, alcohol or coffee, I don’t do drugs. It probably happened gradually although in hindsight, I feel it was more like this: “One evening I went to a party, and I was a non-smoker. The next morning I woke up, and I was a smoker.” I’ve had that stick between my fingers nearly half my life. Shame, shame, shame on me. Self-flagellation. A pack a day for the last eighteen years. There’s one good thing, though; the best apology to my shameful fault: I totally quit during each of my pregnancies. These were three of the six times I quit. But the idea to pay attention to here is that I can quit. Problem is I have no clue how to commit to quitting. “It’s just a habit,” I say, inwardly wondering who the hell I’m trying to fool, “I can quit whenever I decide to.” I just haven’t made that decision yet. I need to find a good reason — which shall not involve extending the family with an extra child.

On the other hand, on one New Year’s Eve fourteen years ago, my husband decided to quit and he just did. Period. Just to disprove my prior point about those pointless lists. To say I don’t have my husband’s strength is the understatement of the year. I’m a Dory-like distracted woman: “I’m thrilled to announce (once again) that I quit! Oh look, a cigarette!”

But, no, okay, let’s start over. Let’s kick some asses. Let’s start with this and start taking names.

Quit smoking.

As my kids get older, it is in fact perfect timing; it’s become harder and harder to avoid the subject, although deep inside my heart (to my own ignorance denial) and according to my seemingly-fully-functional lungs, I know I won’t get cancer (or any of those gross things we see in the photos on cigarette packs). Not me. Plus, the nicotine withdrawal symptoms are similar to the suffering of the condemned who implores one last puff. Get the irony? It’s a vicious circle. We all have our reasons to destroy ourselves. Some of us like to jump out of a plane with a parachute (or lack of thereof), some like to eat peanut butter. I’m only smoking. Studies have shown that if you eat healthy, exercise on a regular basis, don’t drink alcohol and don’t smoke, you still die at the end. Sorry guys, that’s life.

But I resolved to quit six days ago when I read about National Kick Butt Day as I finally found my reason to. I did the math. 38,000. Thirty-eight-fucking-thousand dollars I gave away to the tobacco industries! Holy crap, I could be driving an orange Audi A3 Sportback e-tron right now. I hate myself.

On day one to redemption road, I have already broken my own unbearable record of coffee-drinking. Not even shaking. I am so full of energy, I’m sure I can glow through the night when the sun sets. I feel great, energy is fueling in my brain, too. Strong, decided and happy. A liiiiittle teeny-weeny itsy-bitsy over-excited is all. Everything else seems normal beside the non-shushing of my brain. My mind is in fact so loud and wandering, I have to write something down, get something good out of it. And of course, I text Michelle.

Michelle: What happened to going to bed??

Me: I am in bed 🙂 Alone with you. [Editor’s note: it happened to be one night where neither of our husbands were home.]

Michelle: Sleep, then, ha ha.

I reply with the thumb up, probably not convincing enough.

Michelle: Okay, have fun reading/writing. I’m going to sleep for real. 🙂

Me: Me too 😉

Michelle: Okay, good night then. (Put the fanfic down …)

A few hours later, I have written 4,300 words of a story I’m working on and I send her my writing without rereading it. It’s too late already.

Me: Not quite the chapter 3 I had in mind … Phew! Amazing how sometimes the story drives you and not the other way around.

She doesn’t reply, but I didn’t expect her to at this hour.

On day two in the morning, I read what I sent and … Fuck! I wrote porn, rough porn if you may. One vice for another. Texting Michelle again, trying to offer profuse apologies.

Me: Reading it again this morning, I’m not sure I’ll keep it in this direction … Maybe not a good idea to read it if you’re working now.

Michelle: Well, that’s it. If you are warning me I shouldn’t read it if I’m working, I’m definitely reading it now. [Some time passes while she reads.] Whoa, ha ha, you’re weren’t kidding. 🙂

Me: I don’t know what got into me!

Michelle: Hey, run with it!

I am still fairly happy. For a few hours. I have written porn, so what? Deal with it. At least smoking is not in my every thought. How could it be after what I’ve just read? But as the day goes on, I start avoiding my co-workers like the plague as I become more and more tetchy. But of course I would be, I’m in dire need for a smoke, I’m sleep-deprived, sexually frustrated and absurdly too caffeinated. That’s too cold of a turkey for me. I must calm down. Shut up, brain, now please. Think orange A3 Sportback.

On day three, I still haven’t managed to sleep more than five hours at night but I feel great. I can’t explain why. Actually I feel healthier already. I don’t need to rush to my coffee machine first thing in the morning. I don’t need my sunglasses straight out of bed. I’m even awake before all my kids are. What I do instead is sit at the piano and gently play a piece of Beethoven, Bach or Muse to steer the last of my kids out of bed. Oh my god, I’ve become the Pied Piper of the Caribbean. It’s starting to freak me out. Is this really me? Who is me? I need a smoothie. Now. Yes, ma’am, what flavor? Sugar, salt and fat, please. Too perfect and too healthy are just too spooky. Hiking a volcano without coughing my lungs out would be the last straw.

On days four to six, I don’t feel so healthy anymore. My nose is runny and my throat hurts as I have a productive cough. James Earl Jones would sing along with mezzo-sopranos compared to how hoarse my voice is. First time I have had a cold in over two years. Maybe it’s a coincidence and maybe it’s the bad weather we’ve had lately. Or maybe I’m cleansing this shit out of my system. Yesterday at work, it felt like everyone had become a smoker while I had decided to go in the opposite direction. Bastards. Forgive my (being actually) French. But today, I’ve gained confidence. I can go outside with them, watch them indulge themselves in their sick lil’ habit and stay out of it. Well, I couldn’t smoke even if I wanted to, which undeniably helps.

I’m still pretty proud of myself. I can already see the shape of the Promised Land. Where I’ll drive myself to in an orange Audi. In a few days I should be able to afford the first wheel with the money saved from not buying cigarettes. No one said it would be fast and easy. Columbus, too, took … err … well, I don’t actually know how long he took to cross the Atlantic but he must’ve kicked a lot of asses to manage to do that. Land of the free, here I come! All I needed was a little kick in the butt.