So 60 hours ago I had my last cigarette. There's a trusty and (as far
as I can tell) almost completely ineffectual (but maybe that "almost"
is pretty important) 21 mg. patch slapped on my arm. One reason why
the measly 21 mg. delivered over 24 hours might still be leaving me
with skin crawling, excruciating nerve clanging withdrawals.
When I started smoking again after nearly 9 months without a
cigarette, in July of 2004 (ironically, on Independence Day), I chose
Natural American Spirit cigarettes. Health smokes, don't you know. It
turns out these are stronger than Marlboro Reds, the smokes I had been
smoking. I also gravitated toward the second strongest cigarette American
Spirit makes: their pimped out super minty menthols. 2.17 mg. nicotine
per cancer stick. And promptly hit a pack a day. In other words, 43.4
mg. of glorious nicotine delivered over roughly 16 hours, usually in
great clumping gobs of heart stopping, lung crackling joy.
My legions of receptors are laughing maniacally at the puny patch.
The "simple spiritual tools" of AA have been helping me immeasurably
the past 2.5 days. Okay, maybe just uncommon sense: right now, I am a
non-smoker. I'm not in charge of quitting; all I have to do is show up
without smoke in my lungs. I can't figure out why or how I'm quitting
or even if I'm able to do it. In other words, I am powerless over
nicotine and my life has become unmanageable. My short form of the
Serenity Prayer: "Help me!" Just a great yelp to the universe.
Antheil's Ballet Mechanique or Varese's Ionisation or far, far worse, something like Neil Diamond's I Am...I Said playing at full volume in bad headphones pretty much 18 hours a day without interruption. Tiny little insectile devils jabbing happy tasers into my back and forearms, dancing and laughing like Daffy Duck. Pornographic images in my mind of the great allure of the crackle of the baccy as the flame from the lighter hits it. Fantasies of the utter repose and peace provided by just one cigarette. A James Brownian restlessness. Flashes of Olympian rage not triggered by anything in particular. A strange feeling that my soul is plunging feet first into a bottomless pit, surrounded by a howling maelstrom. Combined exhaustion and hypervigilance.
And now, for the second day in a row, I head into the desert to walk up hills.