June 15, 2015

Good evening. I haven’t written in over two months. That’s shameful…or a blessing, depending upon who you are.

I wish I could say I haven’t written because I was caught up in my exciting life and was traveling abroad and generally doing amazing things, but really, that would be a fib. Although, I did go see Beck in concert, so that was pretty neat. I haven’t written because, well, I have been busy, but not doing great things. I was just busy with life, I guess. Working, getting and then losing a part-time job (I’ll elaborate on that in a few), trying to maintain my gym rat status, riding a bicycle more, and trying to fight the good fight against smoking.

First, the part-time job thing. So, I went back to the place where I worked for 5 years when I first moved here to Lincoln mumblemumble years ago. It’s a retail job (gag), but it’s also an easy job, meaning if you have common sense and a knack for folding clothes, you’re golden.

Let me briefly touch on quitting smoking, which I stopped a little over two weeks ago. In my past attempts, I have gotten sick a few days afterwards due to the whole body going “huh? Whut? No carcinogenic toxins filling the lungs?” and my body goes into this whole freak-out mode where it celebrates me not inhaling tar and arsenic anymore and kind of forgets about the whole immune system thing and I get some sort of virus. This time around, I got a sinus infection which I originally thought was the “quitters flu,” but no, it was a sinus infection.

Okay, so, I’m miserable with this infection and I was scheduled to work at the part-time job, but when I’m miserable, I don’t wanna. Call me a baby, call me a wuss, call me whatever, I just didn’t want to. Sorry. I called the store, saying “hey, can’t make it in, I’m sorry.” I was told to email all the employees to see if anyone would take my shift. Luckily, for two days, I did. Day 3 however, was not so lucky. I didn’t find anyone and didn’t show up. My bad, I know.

Well, apparently, when I started at this place again, my previous record was not wiped clean with previous attendance transgressions. This incident was my 8th unexcused absence and that means termination, so bye-bye, Erin! It’s okay, really. I’m not too broken up about it. I feel bad obviously, but eh. So there’s that. Oh, Erin, you ignorant slut. It’s kind of funny, or at least I find it funny.

I know, I’m a mess.

And that’s the story of how I had a part-time job for like, 4 weeks.

But hey! I quit smoking! So really, that’s like saving money which is kind of like having a part-time job! Always a silver fuckin’ lining.

Regular readers (aka my mom) know I’ve been battling this smoking thing for a while now. I started in November 2009 as an act of rebellion against my then-husband. He didn’t care I started, so therefore, that set off a chain reaction in my head that I will continue to smoke until someone cares enough to make me stop. Logic escapes me sometimes.

Friends and family did not count in this silly little plan of mine, oh no. My mom’s pleading wasn’t enough. My dad’s anger wasn’t enough. My friends’ tough love wasn’t enough. Why? Because my then-husband–someone I loved with every cell inside my body–had had enough of me and when he saw me smoking, simply said, “you smoke now?” and then walked inside the house. Fine. If he didn’t care, then I sure as fuck won’t care, either. Slow, deliberate death it is! An agonizingly apathetic demise for Erin! I deserve this leisurely destruction of self!

To date, I’ve tried to quit at least seventy times, and I wish that wasn’t an exaggeration and I was being silly. It’s actually probably in the thousands if you count all the times I’ve thought to myself, “goddamn it, I’ve got to quit smoking” as I inhaled smoke or as I was being active and I started wheezing. I made one successful attempt prior to this one about 2 years ago when I quit smoking cigarettes and used a vaporizer, weening myself down on nicotine level until it was none at all. I went about 6 months that time. Every other “attempt” lasted maybe a day or two, then ohgodIneedtosmokerightnow.

I’ve been toying with quitting since like, January of this year, mainly because of the enormous amount of guilt and general fucked-up-ed-ness of driving your father to chemotherapy and having to excuse yourself while he’s getting poison pumped into his veins to inhale your poison. Talk about the ultimate “fuck you, old man!” But again, despite the fact that every time I’d see my dad and he’d say to me, “I wish you’d quit that stuff” and me replying “I know, I know, I’m trying…” I didn’t. I made one feeble try a few months back when I wanted to seek the help of a health coach through work.

Nothing against health coaches because they offer a noble service, but for tobacco cessation, they are the worst. They think setting a small goal like “I won’t smoke in my car on the way to work” will lead to quitting. “I’ll drink a glass of water every time I want to smoke!” is in theory a good idea, but really? Really, health coach? I said to someone that if this person checked on me every hour on the hour while trying to quit, THAT would be a beneficial health coach. Y’all gotta hold smokers hands, man. Even though it’s just nicotine and cigarettes, the addiction is real. It’s not cocaine or heroin, but to a person who had a rough day and their only solace will be at the end of a burning smoke, a pack of wild horses couldn’t drag me away (h/t The Stones).

To help me quit this time (please let it be for good, oh please, please please…), I employed the use of Wellbutrin. Last year after my hysterectomy and I was having wacky hormonal things, I got put on it as a two-fer: an antidepressant to help with the mood swings AND a medicine to help quit smoking! Fantastic! While it failed miserably at helping regulate my moods, I’ll be g.d.’ed if it didn’t make me not crave cigarettes so much. I think that is the second longest I’ve gone without smoking–about a week. But when the day I made myself scrambled eggs for breakfast and broke down into heaving, gasping sobs over these scrambled eggs because scrambled eggs were tragic to me at that moment, I called my doctor’s office, damn near hyperventilating because I was crying so hard, begging to be taken off this devil mediation, thus ending my quitting.

But since I decided I needed to lose weight back in late January, I knew this nixing the stix thing would have to follow suit, I asked the doctor I work for if she could prescribe the medication for me again because while it made me hysterical over eggs, I was hoping that was the hysterectomy talking and not a common thing that will happen to me. And luckily, Steve the Roommate also wanted to quit. He informed me one day about three weeks ago that Friday, May 29th would be The Day and by golly, we’ve both stuck with it so far. It’s getting easier with each passing day. I don’t feel awkward driving to work anymore because I just wasn’t sure what to do with my hands, and chewing gum after a meal is the new norm. I do have to be very, very, very careful with alcohol, though, which isn’t a bad thing, but I’ve found that even after one drink, I want to smoke. I want to smoke a lot. I was scared coffee would set me off, as well, but it hasn’t. Just the booze. Yay!

However, I have gained 8 pounds in two weeks because if I can’t jam a cigarette into my mouth, by god I’m going to jam food in it instead. My healthier eating got flushed down the toilet. The first week of quitting, I think it was day 3 or 4, we ordered pizza two days in a row and I hate 4 pieces of pizza both days because YOLO and AT LEAST I’M NOT SMOKING, RIGHT?!?! This has become my new motto. Last Thursday, I ate breakfast burritos and hashbrowns at McDonald’s, that jalapeno cheese fried chicken sandwich thingy at Wendy’s and French fries for lunch, a Chipotle burrito bowl and tortilla chips for dinner, and I swear to you, at least 30 pieces of Starbursts as a snack. Then on Saturday, Rachel and I went out for breakfast and I ate a cheesy omelette and hashbrowns, we got Dairy Queen Blizzards for lunch, then I went to a Mexican place late Saturday afternoon and got tortilla chips and queso dip for a “snack,” and you bet your ass I went to my favorite Indian food place for dinner and stuffed my gob with delicious spicy food and topped it all off with a package of peanut butter M&M’s because again YOLO and AT LEAST I’M NOT SMOKING, RIGHT?!?!

The shit of it is, this is how I used to eat all the time, so I guess it’s a good thing I’m freaking the fuck out about what I’m eating now and so upset I’m reverting back to terrible habits but…AT LEAST I’M NOT SMOKING. It doesn’t help Dr. R said to me today when I was lamenting my weight gain to her, “it’s normal for quitters to gain weight. I’m not worried about it and neither should you.” Oh, come ON! This is like the only time in a person’s life when a freakin’ doctor of medicine will be totally cool with you eating bullshit and getting fat because they can deal with your fat ass as long as you’re just a non-smoking fat ass.

And here is where I’m probably going to lose you never-been-a-smokers, and maybe some of you smokers because you’ll be all “what in the good god damn is she talking about?”

By quitting smoking, I feel a part of me is missing, that I’m somehow incomplete. Allow me to explain: I typically smoked a pack a day, sometimes a pack and a quarter, so anywhere from 20 to 30 cigarettes a day. I smoked first thing in the morning when I got up, I smoked waiting for coffee to brew, I smoked while drinking coffee, I smoked before I got ready for work, I smoked on my way to work, I smoked at lunch, I smoked on my way home from work, I smoked when I got home, I smoked because I was home, I smoked after dinner, I smoked because I hadn’t smoked since after dinner, I smoked before bed, and sometimes, if I woke up in the middle of the night to go potty, I’d smoke then, too.  Oh, and the days I’d have to drive to my dad’s house to take him to chemo? I’d chain smoke for 2 hours down to his house. Or the times I decided to go on one of my patented road trips to nowhere? I’d smoke so much, my lungs burning and me stinking of stale smoke but did I care? Nope! I’ma gonna smokie smoke!

As you can see, I smoked a lot.

In smoking so much, it becomes who you are in a sense. I was Erin the Smoker. Smoking was the one thing that was always there for me, no matter what time of day, no matter where I was or what I was doing. Bored? Go smoke, that’s something to do. Tired? Go smoke, it’ll either help wake you up or wind you down. Stressed? Go smoke, you’ll feel better. Hungry? Go smoke, you don’t need to snack on food. Feeling lonely? Go smoke, this cigarette will be your friend. Writing and stuck on a certain part you can’t figure out? Go smoke, you’ll have a “eureka!” moment. Full from a good meal? Go smoke, the menthol will act as a digestive. Money troubles? Go smoke, because in no way are you quite literally burning money. Having man troubles? Go smoke, this cigarette won’t give you any. Feeling sexually aroused because of the same man who was giving you troubles earlier? Go smoke, cigarettes go between your lips and like to be sucked, too.

To quit means letting go of something that I could always rely on. Before when I’d make the “I’m quitting!” claim, I’d be all gung-ho about it until I got down to my last few cigarettes in the pack, then the anxiety would set in. I would panic. Oh my god, what am I going to do now? I can’t quit now! I need this. I’ll quit, just not now. I’ll quit in like, a month so I can prepare myself for it better. 

We all know what waiting for that “perfect time” to do something is: bullshit. If you want to do something, just fuckin’ do it. Will you be ready? Oh, probably not, but if you wait for that “perfect time,” you’ll never do it. Trust me on this. I’m a bit of an expert on this topic.

Today marks the 17th day without a cigarette. I’m rather shocked I haven’t caved yet, and to be honest, I haven’t had that many moments where I seriously thought about fucking it all and going out to buy any. Maybe three times. The other times I got over the urge by closing my eyes and Lamaze breathing like I was in labor or something. Breathe, Erin, breathe!! Thatta girl! 

It’s nice not stinking like what I imagine Keith Richards must smell like. I think my car has finally aired out, but it’s hard to tell because my sense of smell isn’t quite all there yet…or maybe it is and my car is not smelly anymore. My hair is better because it isn’t soaking up smoke, so it isn’t dull and also smelly, which is nice. My lungs are on the mend, or I hope so. I was riding the bike yesterday and had just made my way up a steep hill and was having difficulty taking deep breaths in an effort to catch it, so that wasn’t a whole lot of fun, but I’m the person who goes “well, that’s because you were stupid and smoked for almost 6 years. Of course your lungs are going to be shit still. Idiot.” not the “I don’t get why I still can’t breathe yet!” Well, idiot, because you fucking smoked like a fucking idiot because you’re a fucking idiot.

I swear to you all, if I fall off this wagon this time, I don’t know what I’ll do. I’m so tired of failing at things, you know? I need this to stick this time around. I realize I’m human and we all falter, blah blah blah, but come on, man. Just gimme this one thing I can do. My writing is mediocre, I don’t have any other talents, and this weight loss thing is taking a header into the toilet right now, so if I can nail this quitting smoking business, I’d at least feel like I was able to do something meaningful. Yes, I’m being hard on myself, but I don’t care. You know why I’m such a jerk to myself? Because it makes me fight harder. I don’t want a fucking medal of participation for this shit. This isn’t a goddamn game anymore, this is me finally deciding I’m worth something and I need to fight like hell for me because let’s be honest here–no one else is.

That sounded rude. Let me rephrase that: I know I have people in my corner, always cheering for me and rooting me on and without that constant support, I’d have given up long ago. Thank you isn’t enough to express how I feel. I don’t know if words would suffice anyway. Words are words, but actions are everything. Lord knows outside of this blog, I fail miserably at using words because wordz iz hard.

Jesus, a bitch doesn’t write for 2 months and give her a free evening and suddenly she thinks she’s David Foster Wallace (this is funny because DFW is the author of “Infinite Jest”, a 1,079 page fuckin’ barge of a book. I’ve read like, 200 pages in a year. I’ll never finish it.).

Plus, it’s quarter till 11 and I’m almost 34 years old going on 84. Plus, I got a bit emotional earlier today and that always tends to tucker me out.

If you stuck through to the end, you’re a brave fool.

But as always, thanks for reading.

E

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