14 August 2010

But in everything, there is some good.

So, as stated earlier, I've made the leap and decided to quit smoking. This morning, we woke up at 6:30 (as we always do), and the patch had stayed on (miraculously) overnight, and hadn't budged. So far, so good. I dashed into the kitchen to scare up some breakfast for Steve (I'm not a morning person; my job is to /make/, not eat said breakfast), and truly wake up. There I am, making some curried plantains, when it sunk in. Once I put on that first patch, I needed to go forward and commit to it completely.

I walked into the living room, picked up my lighters, ashtrays, and cigarette boxes, and threw them all in the trash. That way, even if I am tempted to bring home a cigarette, I won't be "set up" to smoke the thing. It's a small concession, but there you go. Removing the triggers will likely help me to think of my house as nonsmoking now.

We made it out the door to get to City Hall. After four years, we finally decided to stop procrastinating, and get our butts down to get a domestic partnership agreement signed and sealed. It was difficult not to bite down a bitter thought towards the couple in front of us who were getting a real marriage license, her in her pretty white dress, and him in a nice black suit, but I managed, because those two were having a wedding in City Hall, whereas mine was with family and friends. Small concession, but there you go.

On the way to City Hall, we stopped by the Starbucks, where I got an Earl Grey to clear out the morning cobwebs. Bad idea. I've known for some time now that I can't hold my caffeine, and that it hits me strongly. That stupid tea is the reason I'm still awake right now, after like a 1 hour catnap. Anyway.

It was still freakishly early by the time we got out of City Hall, and I had a good two hours until work. On a whim, I asked Steve if he'd like to just go to Washington Square Park with me, and hang out for a bit till I had to go in to work. He looked at the time, and thought that sounded positively fabulous, because the day was very beautiful (cool breeze, very light bit of sun, empty streets). We decided to walk, because he didn't have an unlimited ride card, and again, beautiful day. He took me up Broadway, past Chinatown, across Houston, and up Sullivan Street. On the way to the park, the buildings stood out so much more vividly than ever before.

Things that I'd never paid attention to before came to the forefront for me. It was a wonderful excuse to just be together a little longer, and make plans for the future (shopping and otherwise), chat about stupid things, and for him to show me "his" neighbourhood. He works down there around West Broadway, and is very familiar with that trail.

We got to the park, and the first big craving hit. Usually, when I'm early for work because I planned it that way, I'll grab a soda and a cigarette, and sit on one of the benches in the sun to just relax for a bit. I kept it light, choosing instead to talk about anything that would distract me. We walked to the Fountain, facing the Arch. Then, a man walked onto the fountain on the opposite side, took off his shoes, and waded in. Watching him collect coins that people had tossed into the fountain provided a good bit of distraction.

See, the literature that I got told me that if I'm to kick the habit permanently, I need to break patterns. For example, if I come home, and sit in one particular favoured spot, and do a certain set of activities before lighting up a cigarette, to do anything but that when I get home. So this time, instead of buying a soda, I had a tea, and instead of the benches we headed to the fountain. I don't know why, but that small thing took me out of that head space, and got me distracted enough by the new experience. I guess that's also why the buildings looked so pretty.

I headed to work an hour early, as there were more and more people coming into the park, and having their own cigarettes. The smell was becoming too tempting, so I asked Steve if he minded if I head into work early. He seemed game, and walked me to the restaurant. I showed my boss the domestic partner certificate, and he and Steve got into a heated rant about how stupid it is that I can't just get a marriage and get it over with. I quietly agreed, but didn't really get into it, because my brain was still thinking of those cigarettes in other people's mouths. I know that this will pass too, but it's still hard to get past that initial craving.

Aside from being ritualistic (smoking on the phone, while walking, after eating, etc.), smoking is also a very social habit. You'll tend to smoke when others are smoking, whether or not you really crave a cigarette. I guess it's like any drug in that way, eh? So seeing someone else light a cigarette makes me subconsciously reach for my bag, even though I stopped carrying cigarettes in the day time a long time back (except on those one or two days that I'd have in the Park).

Work wasn't stressful until I started plunging into the numbers part, which started to give me a throbbing head ache. There were records that weren't being categorised correctly, and when I saw the large list of them that needed to get done, a ghost of a headache started from the back of my skull, and spidered its way forward.

Stupid cravings.

Of course, it doesn't help that the nicotine patch is giving me dry mouth something fierce, because the kitchen is dehydrating as it is. A few hours of sweat later, I managed to get onto the subway, shaking a little. An uneventful, though anxious trip home followed. I dreaded it a little, because the first thing I do when I get home on a Friday night is to have a glass of water. Why? Because the water is tasty, and it helps me disconnect from the world that I just left behind. Then, I'd either flip open the phone, and chat to a couple of friends or Amma, pour myself a drink, and have a cigarette in front of the TV. In between phone calls, I'd keep having more drinks, and more cigarettes, until the rest of the week would fade away.

It makes it pretty bad, because now I associate talking on the phone or watching TV with having a cigarette. I don't want to avoid my friends or family, but right now, I'm still a little rough around the edges, and don't trust myself very much to handle contact. So I poured myself a drink, and sat at the dining room table, in front of Steve to chat to him. Pattern breaking, you know. It seemed to do the trick for about five minutes, before Steve noticed me fidgeting.

"Did you finish that Pratchett novel?"

"Oh shoot! No I didn't!"

He inadvertently struck on the one thing that I never smoke while doing: reading. When I read, I'm so engrossed in the book that I can't be bothered to. Sure, I can eat, or drink water, or whatever, but smoking is a definite no, especially since I could end up damaging the book. I guess I've found my distractor for the next few days: reading.

For the curious, the novel was Carpe Jugulum by Terry Pratchett. Not his best work, but still quite diverting. Yes, I did finish it, by 9:00 which is bed time. After we both went to sleep around midnight~ish, I got back up at 1:00.

Damn tea.