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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Don't Even Start

An accurate calculation done on my fingers tells me that as of today I've been nicotine-free for 19 days short of 19 years.

This ash tray in the parking lot at Samy's Camera brings to mind several things including pity, relief, revulsion and gratitude.

I don't fault smokers for their addiction. It is hard, hard, hard to stop smoking once you start. (Thus the pity.) I know because I smoked for years and it took Nicotine Anonymous to get me off the stuff. I sat in those 12-step meetings and listened to heroin addicts talk about how much easier it was to kick smack than cigarettes.

But I managed, and I don't have to do it again. (Thus the relief.) One of the benefits of quitting is a super sense of smell, which is how I found this "butt can" in the first place. (Thus the revulsion.) And the benefits are endless. Of all the debilitating things smoking can do to your health, it can do just as much damage to your self-esteem.

We can point to major turning points in our lives. For me, quitting smoking was one of them. Losing that crutch allowed me to bring happiness into my life in more ways than I can count on fingers, toes and all the family digits. (Thus the gratitude.)

43 comments:

J.J. said...

Congratulations!

Dina said...

I'm happy for you.

Due to the smokey apartment air I had to breathe during childhood, I never ever had any desire to smoke.

Good luck to all those who try to stop.

Bellis said...

There aren't many people that smoke in California, thank goodness, but it's still widespread in Hollywood. Butts everywhere by the end of a movie or TV shoot in Pasadena. Why the movie industry?

Shell Sherree said...

Congratulations, Petrea ~ that's wonderful. My parents both smoked from teenage years and both gave up, hmm, similar timing to yours. I'm so grateful they did ~ for their sakes as well as mine ~ and I understand how tough it is.

Turquoise Diaries said...

Congrats.. I never smoke in my life but my husband is smoking so far he tried couple times to quit but no success :((

Regina K said...

I would not want to walk by and smell this.

Vanda said...

"Can" and "butt" next to each other made me think for something else for a second.

I flirted with smoking when I was young, but it seemed too much fuss.

Have you ever seen the movie "Now Voyager"? In it a repressed spinster (Bette Davis) lives with her tyrannical mother, but eventually asserts her own will and starts an affair with a married man (Paul Henreid). It always makes me laugh. In the film cigarette is the symbol both for Devis's budding defiance, and sex.

Vanda said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-KGiwGn1d8

pasadenapio said...

I'm glad to see Samy's has a reeceptacle for cigarette butts, which are the number-one source of litter worldwide.

Pasadena was the first city in California and one of the first in the nation to pass a tobacco-control ordinance (1980s). Our ordinance has been strengthened over the years.

It's a great feeling of personal accomplishment to give up smoking. I'm glad you're commemorating your success.

mark said...

I think I have you beat by 2 years and 114 days. I was a tough dragon to slay that was helped alot by hypnosis. A few years ago we were in a bar/bistro in Healdsburg, CA. something was very different. I noticed that no one at the bar was smoking. I asked the waiter and was told CA. state law forbids it. "Works for me." Minnesota passed the same law a few years later.

mark said...

p.s. Theater actors are allowed to smoke on stage during perforances.

Petrea said...

I wouldn't have thought to commemorate the date had I not seen this can yesterday. I'm so used to not smoking, and California is so devoid of smokers as Bellis says, that seeing smokers surprises me. I had the group's help to quit, and also the pressure of being in a place where most people don't smoke. It must be hard to quit in places like Europe, where so many people smoke.

Aysegul! I wish your husband luck. Sometimes it takes several attempts.

Vanda, yes, I think cigarettes symbolize sex and defiance. They also mean "leave me alone," "don't mess with me."

I'm glad Pasadena has a strong ordinance. Another reason to like it here.

Oh--and a welcome to Regina K!

Petrea said...

Mark, it's true about theatre actors. However, signs must be posted outside the theatre warning patrons that cigarettes will be smoked during the show. Many actors will choose to smoke clove cigarettes, or whatever they can find that doesn't have nicotine in it.

J+P said...

Smoking is fun. It's delicious. It's satisfying. I loved it. I miss it—31 years, now, sometime in the winter. I forget the date. But every rare once in a while, I'll catch a whiff when a smoker lights up with a match … that tendril of tobacco and sulphur is a pheromone from adolescence, sharp with memories of late-night drives, of spelunking sex and catfish meals on splintery porches … time has nothing on consciousness. My madeleine is a Winston, fresh from the pack, innocent of fire, like a bullet before the gun.

Desiree said...

Go you!

Regina K said...

btw congrats on quiting. I smoked for a very short time (3 years) in my early 20's. I always thought my mother saying she could smell that I smoked was inaccurate. Now I can smell when smokers were in the elevator before me.

Petrea said...

J, you're right.
I used to have that reaction to the smell, but no longer. My madeleine is eucalyptus. I'll tell y'all about it sometime.

Thanks, Des.

Ain't it the truth, Regina? I thought my mother was exaggerating. But I can smell it on people now, easily.

Speedway said...

Congratulations! I bow to you for your consideration to the people around you and to yourself. Must have been an act of extreme will to finally bid the habit good-bye.

My parents both smoked, my father died from long-term battle with emphysema, but even in his last years he still smoked. The decline of someone so proud was hard to watch. As a result, neither my brother and sister nor I has ever smoked.

Recently I noticed that, here in Indiana, a carton of cigarettes cost $50-$60 -- another reason to quit, if one can.

I know all too well that one can tell when someone has been smoking by the smell. Some years back, I passed a co-worker in our office. I could smell her cigarette odor, which was so strong it made me ill. I ended up with pneumonia. No joke!

I used to enjoy going to comedy clubs, but haven't been for years because the air was so thick with smoke both my guy and I would come home ill. The laughs weren't worth the discomfort, so we stopped going.

Kat said...

Congratulations, Petrea! I had a friend who was a heroin addict-- and he said the same thing! Heroin was much easier to quit, and he never went back to it... smoking, well-- he's never managed to become completely smoke free. That says something about the power of nicotine!

ben wideman said...

What an accomplishment! Huge milestone coming up at year 20.

Petrea said...

Yeah, the cost of a carton ought to do it.

Once I realized that the nicotine was ruling me I got mad enough to take charge. I didn't want a poison to have power over me. I knew I was stronger. The 12 step programs work on the principle that your higher power can help you handle this. I got to choose my own higher power, and I chose me.

Blasphemy to some, but that's the only way it was going to work for me, and it did. Still does.

It CAN be done if you want to do it. But you've got to want to get out from under it. You have to want to rule your own life.

Mister Earl said...

I'm in my 41st year. Only smoked for 2, but tried to quit for probably half of that. The strange thing was, we I actually quit, I didn't say "I'm quitting," I said to myself, "I'm not a smoker. I'm just trying to be like other people." That was it. Never had any desire after that. For awhile, when people would come over and smoke, I'd enjoy the smell, enjoy their experience, but never had a any more desire to do it myself.

TheChieftess said...

About 3 months before my mother passed away, at 89, I went to visit her at her small group home. She had only been there a short while and was getting accustomed to the people, many of whom were trying to get her to quit smoking (she'd smoked since she was 14). When my sister and I got there, we suggested that we go outside so that she could smoke her cigarette while we visited. She said "Oh, I don't think so, I gave up smoking. But it's been the hardest thing I've ever done. I think about it all the time." I said, "Mother, when did you stop smoking?" Her response..."This morning."
Now...I'm the daughter who refused to get their cigarettes or ashtrays for them, wouldn't wash the ashtrays, and tried to get them both to stop smoking (my dad did stop)...but at this moment, I nearly choked on my internal laughter. I finally said, "Mother, at this stage in your life, I don't think it really matters. If you want to smoke your cigarette, then go ahead." She was quite relieved and we all went out on the patio so that she could have her cigarette.

TheChieftess said...

That said...my mother started suffering from dementia in her mid 80's which the doctors attributed primarily to her smoking. She also had a mild case of emphysema. However, the doctors also told us that the damage was done and her stopping smoking would not change anything...
One other repercussion of smoking over a lifetime, she had more wrinkles in her late 30's than I or either of my sisters, who range up to 65 years of age...
Like Dina, I never had a desire to smoke either.

Trish said...

Petrea---CONGRATS! I have heard from other former smokers and 12 steppers that heroin is easier---don't doubt it! I am VERY proud of you!

but you and Bellis obviously haven't been in a downtown (ala LA or SF) recently. We spent a few days in SF a month+ ago and thought we'd choke to death walking around town due to all the smokers (and not JUST the "funny" cigarettes).

I too never needed to smoke. I grew up with a mother who smoked like a chimney. I currently have lung issues because of her smoking. That smoking also killed her barely past the age of 51. I did everything I could to get her to stop, hid her cigarettes, wouldn't get ashtrays for her, wouldn't kiss her if she smelled like smoke. Didn't do a whit of good to get her to stop.

After Mom was Dx w/cancer, she gave me a laser printer that had been in her office. More than 2 years after her death and more than 3 after she had given it to me, the plastic of the printer STILL smelled so much like smoke I couldn't have it in the house. I finally had to have someone haul it away.

and...Butt Can? don't get me started!

Mister Earl said...

I bought a pair of binoculars on Ebay. They smelled like cigarettes for around a year, but finally the smell went away. Strange phenomenon that.

Petrea said...

Such interesting stories, everyone. I should post about drugs tomorrow.

Yeah, Trish, I ordered a book from an independent seller. Lovely to talk to on the phone, very nice email connection. But that book had to air out in the garage for months before I could bring it into the house. And it was only about 25 pages long. Had it been longer I doubt I could ever have read it. Made a note not to purchase from that person again. Too bad. Nice lady.

-K- said...

Good for you.

My father wasn't free of unfiltered Pall Malls for more than 19 minutes in his life.

Ms M said...

Congratulations on 19 years of being "butt-free"! :) It takes guts to quit the butts....

altadenahiker said...

Oh, this virtual ashtray is very popular.

I remember riding to 1st grade in a stationwagon while my friend's mom drove. The mom smoked, but we were safe from the cold because the windows were closed.

Petrea said...

Oh yeah, when we were kids, who knew? It was so much more acceptable. I'm so sorry for people who can't get out from under.

Trish said...

P---I just avoid anyplace that smells like smoke...my lungs are crispy enough, thanks.

and speaking of the 12-step thing...ordered a book from someone online once. It showed up in a clear mailer baggie with 12 step bookmarks and fluff. purchase wasn't even 12 step related...explained I don't care what my mailman thinks of me, but for some folks, that Anonymous thing is important---so I would not order from them again.

ok wv: lusermule...the bookseller was a luser..mule

Greg Sweet said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Petrea said...

Yikes, Trish, very weird.

Greg, if you try your link now you'll see why you couldn't find it online before.

Petrea said...

Thanks for trying anyway.

Greg Sweet said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Toemailer said...

Still working on it here, just can't seem to get to that "I've had enough" point. Arrrrrrrgggggghhhhh! :P

Petrea said...

Hey, Toemailer! I've seen your blog and I love it. Check out Toemailer's blog, everybody.

And Toemailer, I hear you. Here's what finally got me to want it badly enough: I wanted to date men who didn't smoke, but they didn't want to date me. Plus I was beginning to see what it was doing to my skin. Whatever works.

Susan Campisi said...

I only smoked casually in college and then when traveling in Europe. I'm so thankful I never got addicted. A friend who quit years ago recently traveled in Argentina and came back a smoker again. I feel bad for her she's hooked again.

Sometimes I feel caffeine rules my life. I wonder if that's a bad thing?

Love toemailer!

Petrea said...

Caffeine is good. Caffeine is all good.

Irina said...

I did the same 7 years ago, after 17 years of chain-smoking, feels so good to be free from my everyday boss, the cigarette..
Your blog is a so interesting book to read and to watch, and the comments are amazing, life stories.

Petrea said...

Thank you, Irina. I'm sure you've had the same experience I've had with blogging. You meet the most remarkable people.

Toemailer said...

Thanks for the plug, and the advice!