Thursday, November 4, 2010

Obsession

by Ashley Lister

It’s been fifteen days, ten hours and forty-five minutes. No. Wait. Forty-six minutes.

It used to be that, in each of my stories, there’d be a character who smoked. Why? I suppose it was because I smoke. Smoked. That personal obsession changed fifteen days ago. Fifteen days, ten hours and forty-six minutes ago. No. Wait. Forty-seven minutes.

Don’t worry. This blog isn’t going to be one of those tirades against smokers, or some annoying piece of I-did-it-and-you-can-do-it-too-give-up-smoking battle cries.

One reason for that is because, I don’t think I’ve actually quit yet. I’ve just not had a cigarette in more than a fortnight. If I’d gone a fortnight without sex that wouldn’t mean that I’d quit having sex, would it? Dear God, I hope it doesn’t mean that.

Another reason this is not a tirade against smoking is because I personally believe everyone has the right to choose the chemicals they want to ingest. Whether it’s alcohol, nicotine or any other substance, I figure it’s down to the individual to decide what they want to put in their body. The opinion of a grumpy writer in the UK is of no consequence to anyone except that grumpy writer and possibly some members of his family. Smoke if you want. Seriously: if you’re able to read this blog, I suspect you’ve already read the warnings on the packets that suggest tobacco usage might carry health risks. You can make your own decision.

Fifteen days, ten hours and fifty minutes.

I smoked for about thirty years. Why did I take it up? I guess I wanted to look cool. A smouldering tube of paper, packed with dried leaves, and dangling from your lower lip, is bound to look cool, isn’t it? Admittedly, it doesn’t smell cool but that’s immaterial. It doesn't matter if you smell like the skid marks in Smoky the Bear's underpants: it’s all about the look.

Fifteen days, ten hours, fifty two.

Why am I quitting? Have I had a health scare? Am I reeling from a tragedy that’s struck a close friend? Thankfully, it’s nothing as serious as that. I’ve been wanting to quit the smokes for a while. A fortnight ago the right circumstances happened to fall into place. I woke up one morning without a pack of smokes to hand and my mood was somewhere between belligerent and lazy. I was too idle to go out and buy a pack; too stubborn to be bullied into action by an addiction.

Fifteen days, ten hours, fifty five.

And I suspect that this will mean the characters in my fiction will now be reformed of this kinky and potentially deadly obsession. I’m just working on a story now, about a character who’s not had a cigarette for fifteen days and eleven hours…

20 comments:

  1. Ashley,

    My characters certainly smoke less than they did fifteen years, 350 days ago or so. Yes, I did quit in mid November, 1994 after almost 20 years of lighting up.

    I still do feature an occasional smoker, though.

    I'm sure your characters will enjoy being free of the smokes.

    Mine were.

    Craig

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  2. Cheers Craig,

    Sixteen years is one hell of a long time to go without a smoke. Kudos.

    Best,

    Ash

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  3. Way to go!

    See, we always knew stubbornness was a positive trait, right? ; )

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  4. Wow, I can't believe it! I can't imagine you without a cigarette, however, this will make it much easier to take that loooong plane ride across the pond, I'm just sayin'...

    Congrats. It's been several years now for me but I don't know just how many. Maybe as many as 10. I'm not good with dates.

    And don't worry, you'll get less annoying as time goes on...

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  5. Jeremy,

    Thank you. I can see stubbornness as a positive. I'm just hoping that the people I work alongside can also see it as a positive as my moods get grumpier and grumpier. ;-)

    Ash

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  6. Diane,

    Are you telling me that the plane doesn't stop halfway across so that people can get out and stretch their legs?

    Ash

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  7. I think ex smokers are a very select kind of person. All the coolness and world-weary cachet of having smoked, but less of the potential health issues/pungent personal odours.

    (Well, I'll tell myself whatever it takes to keep on the wagon.)

    When I gave up I had smellgasms, though. Did you get that yet? I swear, walking in a forest after rain I nearly started crying because everything smelled so strongly. This is not *always* a good thing ...

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  8. Nikki,

    I am now looking forward to smellgasms. We own four semi-continent dogs, so maybe it's not something I should look forward to.

    Best,

    Ash

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  9. I just passed three years. I never thought I'd do it. Then I was convinced I'd never be able to write without them. I think that was six or seven or eight books ago,.

    I admit, I still have 'smellgasms' (love that Nikki). I still think burning cigs smell good but not so for extinguished or people who smell marinated in it. I've also threatened to take it up again if I'm ever diagnosed with some incurable dreaded disease. But I have not had a single puff since September 10th 2007.


    craig was there when I quit so he is a lucky charm!

    Yay, you, Ashley. If anyone can weave this into a telling tale it's you. Rock on.

    XOXO
    Sommer

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  10. Ash - Quitter!

    Admittedly, I'd rather be addicted to somethiing ubercool like opium (it has accessories! and furniture! and dens of iniquity! How fracking cool is that?) , but the government is being the ultimate party pooper on that plan, so I'm sticking with cigs for now.

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  11. Congratulations, Ashley! To me that seems like quite an accomplishment. I support your health and wellness always whether you smoke or not, and if not smoking is how you feel called, I'm all for it! ;)

    (Congratulations to all the commenters who mentioned having quit too.)

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  12. Sommer,

    Thank you. I've just been hanging with the smokers at school but had no desire to light up. It's strange how the need just isn't in me at the moment.

    That said, like you, I've also made that personal vow about incurable dreaded diseases. I hope neither of us gets to cash in on that card ;-)

    Best,

    Ash

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  13. Kathleen,

    Doing the whole Sherlock Holmes 'opium den' thing would be pretty cool for any writer.

    But, if you're still smoking, I trust you'll think of me when you light your next one and know that I'm enjoying it with you ;-)

    Best,

    Ash

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  14. Em,

    Thank you. And I've got to echo Em's thoughts for all those clever posters who've offered encourgaement and spoken of their own achievements in dealing with tobacco.

    I always thought you guys were really special before. Now I know you're something wonderful.

    Best,

    Ash

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  15. A fortnight without sex just means that you;re married.

    Garce

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  16. Garce - eek! Two whole weeks? I must just be living in blissful cohabitation.

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  17. Garce,

    You owe me for a new keyboard ;-)

    Best,

    Ash

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  18. Garce -- you don't owe me a new keyboard, cause I quite agree with you. Or rather, I am sure hubby would quite agree with you. : )

    Ash -- Hang in there sweetie. I had to quit cold turkey, when we found out my daughter was having a reaction to the smoke. Really bad ear infections all the dang time. Since I quit, she hasn't had a single one.

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  19. Michelle,

    Thank you. Glad to hear your daughter is doing ok now.

    BEst,

    Ash

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  20. Hi all!

    Well done, Ash! I've never smoked (tobacco) but I've seen how hard it is to give it up. I'm pleased to hear that stubbornness is sometimes functional. I'll have to tell my husband!

    Hugs,
    Lisabet

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