Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Falling Off the Wagon and Into Your Arms

One of my favorite new activities is sitting in my quiet apartment in front of my computer and putting things in my mouth. I like to have fifteen different internet tabs going at the same time, three different downloads, and, for good measure, Microsoft Word running, so I can pretend I'm writing or doing homework. I also make tea, eat cookies, chocolate, ice cream, and pasta. Some people call this ADD, but the people who treat me gently, like psychics and therapists, like to call it "multi-tasking."

Tonight I'm distracting/rewarding myself by focusing all my non-eating attention on this 2-3 day trip with Love Affair. So far I want to go to Mexico, Yosemite, Mono Lake, and Big Sur, and hike in the desert, the mountains, along the ocean, get a massage and a facial, relax, drive, and not be cold for one single second. In the middle of January. I also want us to make a soul connection so deep that it is unquestionable our lives will be inextricably, romantically intertwined forever and ever and ever. Also, we are both students, so this trip should cost very little money.

Apparently quitting smoking has made me delusional in more ways than one. I also thought it was okay to smoke cigarettes four nights in a row last week, twice with the sorta predestined notion that if I got drunk enough to not remember that I had quit, it wouldn't be like cheating. My NicA meeting today was especially effective in showcasing my weakness and shame. But god I love recovering addicts; they are so positive and supportive.

At today's meeting I had a flashback when the woman next to me said her perfunctory "Hi, my name is Seriously, and I'm a nicotine addict." There are a lot of people in this city are named Seriously, and it confuses me. I feel like once a day, someone yells "Seriously!" to someone standing within seven inches of me. I've never met so many Seriouslys in all my life. Anyhow, the first time this happened to me was when I was institutionalized for one hot minute, and this woman came into the smoking lounge during one of our two 30-minute smoke breaks. She sat right down next to me, which was bizarre because she wasn't from The Ward and none of us knew her. But she knew who We were, and she said, in a parody of The Ward (from which it was obvious that she had been recently discharged), "Hi, I'm Seriously, bi-polar, manic-depressive," and she stuck out her hand, and I said then as I did today, "Uh...me too?" Moments like that act as horrifying mirrors into your soul because you realize that despite all these horrible problems you think you have that drive you to attend 12-step programs or to self-incarcerate aren't so unique; in fact they're so commonplace that they have these systems in place for a reason. And when someone says EXACTLY what you were about to say, then you feel foolish for repeating the same thing, so you just stare back at them like a baby seeing its reflection for the first time. Except the baby that looks back at you is haggard, just like you.

After the meeting I treated myself with a trip to Whole Foods, where I allowed assorted yuppies to bang into me with their miniature shopping carts, and purchased three-dollar organic chocolate bars with love poems printed on the interior of the wrapper.

In the arms of chocolate and dreams of Love Affair, I thought about two wonderful conversations I had last night with two friends from San Francisco, Sharp and Sleepwalker. Sharp is an old co-worker whom I almost want to name Too Sharp, because the things he says to me are so on point that sometimes I wonder if he's just humoring me. He seems to know exactly what I want to hear. Did you ever tell someone about your deepest and darkest fear, and then forgot about it? Like have you ever been at a bar wasted, and then reveal, for example, this dream you had, then you woke up and realized your life is spinning out of control and that you're clinging onto your deadbeat boyfriend for distraction? Not only do you forget you told that person, you forget this crowning realization altogether. Then, weeks later, that person said to you, "It sounds like you really fear that your life is spinning out of control and that you're using your boyfriend as a distraction." And you look at them like they're the most insightful genius ever? That is how I feel about Sharp all the time. Sometimes I realize that he's just a very good listener to all of the many things I say, but other times I think that he's just very intuitive, and he knows exactly how I feel, and what to say to make me feel good about the world. He had so much news to tell me that I couldn't really explore any one topic; I kind of just let it all wash over me as a package of "San Francisco News." Sharp is also a very good confidante. I never realized how important it is for me to have a confidante because I'm a very open person. I kind of think that secrets lead to shame and shame leads to self-deprecation, so I try not to have any secrets. I also feel like by sharing the burden of my issues, it really lightens the load on me. Like if everyone knows that I'm slipping at quitting, it's okay, because I'm not trying to hide it, and now people will know what I'm going through and they won't smoke around me, or they won't make fun of me because they know it's hard. A few years ago, however, I ran into my first thing that I needed to share that I couldn't, because it involved someone else, and I found out the hard way that some people actually try to maintain some sort of privacy. For me, privacy is an illusion. Anyhow, that's why I wanted to have a secret blog, so I could write about anything and everyone, and nobody would get upset. But then, what use is it telling your problems to a wall? You need people to respond, and it's so much better when it's people you know, because then you actually care. Confidantes are so very important. That's why it's nice to have separate social circles sometimes. We all need confidantes. I need several. We all need support, and it's so important and wonderful when you find people to fulfill these vital roles.

I was a little alarmed at some developments of which Sharp apprised me involving our friend Sleepwalker, so I called her up too, and we had a great talk that ended up being a pep talk to stop being such alcoholics. At one point though, we started talking about not knowing what we were doing with our lives, and because she is facing a potential layoff, about job security. I told her to stay doing what she was doing because she likes it, and no job is ever really secure. My parents are doctors, I said, and I remember them constantly talking about moving to Canada whenever shit with the health care system was called into question. And...maybe there's no solution, there's no security, and there aren't any answers to any of these problems. We just accept the uncertainty of it all and talk about television.

Despite our lapses into alcoholism, running from crazy bitches who want to kill us for no reason, and adolescent angst about the purpose of life, we are more or less having adult conversations. It dawned on me then that maybe these thoughts about Life are what cause us not to care about neighborhood melodrama, and, addictions in mind, our individual lives. Maybe, just maybe, that's what separates the men from the boys and then the men from the Men. Boys have melodrama; men have Life struggles, and Men live life.

I don't know where I fall. I have a vagina.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Project Updates

Monday at 5 a.m. I emailed Love Affair to see if he wanted to perhaps take a road trip with me over winter break. Today he emailed me back and said yes!

This fills me with tempered elation and anxiety, the healthiest mixture of emotions that a recently quit smoker can possibly enjoy. So, sometime during my week in San Francisco, I'll escape somewhere along the West Coast with my broken-off love affair. This gives me 6 weeks to lose 30 pounds.

God, I'm just kidding. Shut the fuck up! The most I can hope for is 5 pounds. Or, with the way I'm eating lately, the best I can hope for is a maximum gain of 3.

The Quit has faltered recently, with me smoking half a cigarette last night and the night before. The NicA meetings have proven to be helpful; addicts are so nice! The other night I walked into this church basement on the Upper West Side and I felt like all two old men in there were staring at me. I've had similar feelings of demographic alienation in mental health groups of past, where it's a bunch of old white guys and me. Then they talk about the Vietnam War and I feel like I remind them of all the villagers they gunned down while listening to Wagner in a helicopter.

This one guy gave me the especially hard once-over, but I stayed, and then I loved him. He'd been a smoker for what, 40 years, and recently quit a few years ago. He said something along the lines of, "For the first time in my life I'm dealing with my emotions...I feel like a little girl sometimes! But it's good."

A lot smokers talk about the "smoke screen," using smoking as an avoidance tactic with anything from awkward social situations to extreme personal emotions. That's how I'm feeling lately, and it's weird to recognize these patterns from your past.

After the meeting this born-again man approached me after the meeting and gave me words of encouragement. "Keep coming back," he told me. "When I first quit, I came to a meeting every night."

What drove me to my first break up my complete Tobacco Abstinence was my disappointing Crazy Blind Date. The guy looked like an overweight Marv Alberts:

But with worse skin. Let me tell you how CBD works. First you create a mini profile where you answer, briefly, what you are good at talking about, what you expectations are, and what you look like. You upload a photo, but they blur it out until after your date with said person. Then you answer like 10 short questions. You tell them you're free at a certain time and can get to certain neighborhoods, and if/when (they're still in Beta) they find you a date, they text you to look at the person's profile, and then you accept/decline. I should have declined because he said he wasn't a drinker (ultimatums scare me), but I accepted because he, like me, said he had no expectations whatsoever. That, and he was a classical composer, which blows my fucken mind. They tell you where you're going to meet, which dude picked out, he told me, from a list of pre-approved locations. A half-hour before the date, CBD enables text messaging to happen anonymously, by texting through their service. Kind of cool.

Too bad there was zero attraction.

To be fair, he was fine as a person and a pretty courteous date, not too hard to make conversation with, etc. But he made me feel kind of made me wonder why I'm trying so hard to be with someone that I'll be willing to spend all of this time and energy with people like him.

He asked me if I could be doing anything at the moment, and I said: drugs.

I knew I was going to smoke a cigarette as soon as I got home. I tried to wait it out, but only so I could tell my Quit Counselor that I did give it the full 10 minutes for it to pass, but it wasn't that kind of craving. It was the kind of thing where you want to talk to that one friend you have who can make you feel better without saying a word, and I needed that hug. And you know what, I didn't feel bad about it at all.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Quitters Are Sexy

My school employs a guy who helps students to quit smoking. I went to see him last week and he listened to me bitch about how hard it is to quit and how it makes me even moodier than before. He also gave me the patch, and told me to use it in tandem with the gum.

Did you know quitting could be this sexy?

Also, did you know that the patch fucken ITCHES? At least, for the first hour you wear it, it feels like there are ten billion little mosquitoes permanently suckered onto your arm and at the same time you want to squash them dead and flick them away, you know that "skin" - colored circle is preventing you from bashing your head repeatedly into the wall.

I also went to my second NA meeting last night. Instead of going to the Gay Men's Health Clinic, I went to one in a church basement and we talked about Step 11, "Seeking through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry it out."

All the God stuff makes me a wee bit irritated, and they try to substitute "Higher Power" whenever possible. I don't know where this is leading me yet, but if I turn into a Jesus Freak, then I think I'd rather be smoking. At least then I wouldn't be delusional. For now, I picture my heart a lot, all pink and pasty, and thumping away.

My older brother came into town this weekend and we did some serious touristing. Sunday alone we went to the Museum of Natural History, the MoMA, the Knicks game, and the last night of the Django Reinhardt festival at Birdland. It was my second time seeing these very same festival performers, and the accordian player, Ludovic Beier, is fucken amazing. The last time I saw them, at Yoshi's in Oakland, I cried. It was so good.
Ludovic Beier

I fell in love with two Davids on Sunday. The first was Knicks Forward David Lee. I love basketball players--a throwback to growing up in Bulls Domination Era in the suburbs of Chicago--and David Lee is kind of goofy and pasty, which is why he is irresistible. I spent the game cheering for only David Lee, and feeling conflicted about being at a Knicks-Heat game. At Birdland, I gazed fondly at the second David of the evening, Django's grandson, David Reinhardt, who was so adorable. And, at 21 years old, just my style.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Fearless Moral Inventory

I am pretty good with my Quit (thanks to Nicorette), but I am at the stage where, during any free moment, my mind plays a "greatest loves" reel of me smoking in blissful situations: walking down the sidewalk, sitting on a park bench, outside a bar, in my kitchen, on the toilet...and I feel kind of dumb for breaking up with my boyfriend, Samson. I miss him.

Today I actually attended a meeting of Nicotine Anonymous. I didn't even know such a thing existed. It was about 160 blocks out of my way, but I knew that if even one thing was said that made sense to me, it would be worth it. So I went. It was small and they had me read the preamble to the meeting, as well as the 12 steps. I said "God" 5 times and the pronoun another few times. This made me uncomfortable, because I do not believe in Him. Other than that, and the fact that they use the word "smober," it was good. Most of the people there were in other 12-step programs too, Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and Co-Dependency Anonymous, to name a few. I didn't know it was going to be 12-step based when I got there, but that's cool. We did an hour of peer-to-peer support and then an hour of Step Four, which is "Making a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves."

I cried more than once.

Having my little brother here this weekend was a huge help in getting me motivated for the Quit and shepherding me through Days 2-4. Just like Girlfriend, Little Brother is exceptionally good at leading through example and not being judgmental at all. He was also very helpful when I needed to e-break with CL 10.1, because he called me to go out over the weekend and his voicemail gave me the shivers, and not in a good way. I asked Little Brother how to handle it and he helpfully told me what a girl told him: I think you're a great guy but I'm not feeling anything in the way of chemistry.

This is fucken genius because the situation boils down to CHEMISTRY! It's science! It's not me; it's not you, it's nobody's fault...it's CHEMISTRY.

I am pretty much done with craigslist dating right now. The Ukrainian and I were supposed to hang out this weekend, but neither of us called each other, and that's okay with me. I was supposed to go out with an unknown, 11.1, sometime this week, but I'm over it. I'm tired. Mick invited me to see Jersey Boys this week but...he smokes. Could be easy as that, huh.

Okay, okay, I'm having issues. Little Brother pointed this out to me too. Well, first he introduced me to this:
I pulled my shoes off at Brookstone the other day to try this sucker out, and I almost came in the store.

Swear to god.

Oh, but he also showed me that I'm still in love with Love Affair.
He called me while we were at dim sum on Saturday and I kind of had a meltdown and was pissing him off.

"What's the big fucking deal? Call him back."

"I can't. I can't handle it. I miss him too much. Why is he calling me?"

"Isn't it obvious? He wants to maintain your friendship."

"We never had a friendship."

"Well, then...maybe he wants to keep you on the back burner."

I know that being kept on the back burner isn't exactly a glamorous position to be in, but this thought had never crossed my mind, and it made me so happy that I caused a small scene in the subway, inspiring some douchebag to say "Oh, I can't conTROL the VOLume of my VOICE sometimes!"

Ahh, douchebags. Sometimes I'm one of them, though. Can't really blame them.

Anyhow, I would love to be kept on Love Affair's back burner. I'm sure as hell keeping him on mine. Isn't that romantical? Yes, entirely unhealthy. Maybe this will preclude me from falling for some perfectly matched men who are right before me. But I'm okay with that. I'm supposed to be concentrating on school anyway...I guess I'd rather be in love in my mind with a fantasy than trick myself into a half-assed relationship in the real world.

Wait. Maybe I didn't tell you. I'm going to see Love Affair in January. No, I'm not going to San Francisco specifically to see him. To be honest, I don't really want to go at all, but my family made this decision en masse, and we are going to California for the holidays. My mom thought she was doing me a favor because she knows I miss my friends, but really, this is too soon for me. This presents a gross situation with me and Love Affair, as I would love to go back and stay at our apartment, but if I'm not allowed to touch him, it might kill me. Or if he's dating someone else, that might kill me too.

This is why I smoked cigarettes...to have control over what would kill me.

Thursday, November 1, 2007


I am quitting smoking.


The first thing that I always do when I quit smoking is to tell everyone I know. It's not so much for support--because the only one who can really help you to quit is YOU--but more like I'm hoping that I will be too ashamed to start smoking again, after telling everyone I have quit. Actually, I've been down this road before, too. Then I just start being a closeted smoker, and then one day I forget that it's supposed to be a secret and I light up all nonchalantly and someone says, "Didn't you quit?"

And then I laugh, "Oh come on...that was months ago!"

This time I think it will be different because it's not for a boy, it's not for my health, and it's not for financial constraints. It's for VANITY. My skin is looking quite terrible lately, and I don't want to have that ashen, wrinkly skin that smokers get after smoking half their lives. I've been smoking half my life. Yesterday I started obsessively massaging my face in class to try and get circulation in there. I'm also sick of listing myself as a smoker in my craigslist ads.

Okay, and there's a secondary reason. I think it's contributing to some feelings of inadequacy, which in turn compound themselves with self-destructive behavior. Sometimes, out of the blue, I think to myself that I'll never have children, because I smoke. Now we all know that this is fucked up because (a) I don't really want children to begin with, (b) many smokers have children, and (c) who the hell is messing with my head? But those thoughts are there. I think it also causes me to devalue my life subconsciously, and I don't really need help with that.

I do need help, though. Quitting always brings out the worst in me: the justification, the bending of self-imposed rules, the quitting quitting, telling myself that life is meaningless anyway, so why am I trying to prolong meaninglessness? There are an incredible amount of "resources" online to help you quit smoking. I used to be on QuitNet. Now it's kind of depressing because I get "quit anniversary" emails that say "Congratulations on having quit three years ago!" and what not. It also tells me I (could) have saved $6,000 by now. Gross.

I have a meeting with counselor on Wednesday. Let's see if I can make it until then.