Sex and the Smoker

It was a hot and steamy evening with no cool breeze whispering its vanity. The echoes of the waves from the beach rhythmically splash as the world sleeps. But somewhere in Havana, some innately natural and distinctly human ritual is happening. Two souls, connected as one, embark on a pristine exploration of their own humanity. Finally, the winds whisper again, and the leaves of a small palm tree swooshes about, tingling and mingling as if they were rolling in laughter.  Read more

Dealing with Shame: No Excuses

"If you're doing nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear or be ashamed of."

That is a principle I've always kept close to my heart. In the last few days, there are a lot of things that have happened that just made me feel constricted and stressed out. Therefore, I was not able to control my smoking. In fact, it has gotten worst. I am back to smoking 1 pack a day and I'm not making this an excuse. I'm writing this because, I feel weak at having broken my goal.

It all started when a man tresspassed in our fenced and gated land. I have had to confront him. He was carrying a jungle bolo (a small sword), he walked about like it was his property, took a look left and right, thereaways and sideaways then that's the time he went to me to ask for some bamboo.

I was seething with anger even though I know this man, because he was not really a friend, just a neighbor. A neighbor who walked inside our fenced and gated property, without declaring his intentions first and who was carrying a bolo.

When I was face to face with him, I first took a look at the bolo, sheethed at his side. I glanced at his hands whether its movements or intentions were directed at reaching out for it. I stared at him for a whole 5 minutes, mustering up all my strength to control my anger and you know what I did?

Nothing. I said nothing and did nothing. I just stared at him so he knows that I'm angry at what he had just done. 

If this was in another place, maybe in the cities, I would have acted differently. But this was a unique place. I am surrounded by a clan with a history of violence.

I have daughters of my own. 

To top it all off, he seemed unaware of his transgression. He feels that he has done nothing wrong and it was his right to just barge in, walk about and count the things that he would like to get.

He said to me,

"Danny are you angry?"

I stared at him.

"Danny, why are you angry? I've done nothing wrong."

I let out a deep breath. 

2 minutes passed and I was still staring at him. 

He was a big man, about 40 to 50 years old, taller than me and I've heard stories about him. They said that he was the "Barako" or bull of this small town back during the times when here was still wild. That if his brothers were still alive, he would have been the "King" of this place way back when.

Finally he said,

"Danny, I am weak and old."

Something in my adrenaline infused mind, clicked. Just like that, my anger meter suddenly went down to about 10%. 

I let out a deep breath and sighed.

With a harried and annoyed tone I gave way, "Ok, ok, what do you need?"

The story ended with me hauling 8 bamboo poles to this man's house and me buying him 4 cans of corned beef. I am still angry and indignant, but I believe that I have done the right thing.

Other people would just have brought a gun to the equation. Simple solution, though it has its own demerits.

Make him feel that what he did was wrong and at the same time, send a message to the overall community that I don't mean harm.

I'm just demanding a little respect. 

Since then, there has been another instant of tresspassing. This was last week.

I know that we need to have the fence fixed. They've created holes in it.

So, what do I do after an adrenaline infused situation?

I smoked more since then.

What else could I have done to calm myself? 

Image credit: Flickr cod_gabriel

For My Sister

This post is for my sister, Meghan. She has been smoking since she was just a teenager. There are some things that I want her to know. Things that I have trouble saying out loud. Every time I try and express how I feel verbally, I seem to mess it up. Everything comes out how I didn't want it to sound. So, instead, I'm going to write this here and post it online. My sister is 22 years old. She already has one beautiful three year old child and is now expecting another child around Christmas time. It's sad that she's pregnant and smoking, but she's addicted now and doesn't know how to stop. She is a great mother! Believe me, she is. She's just made the stupid decision to smoke. I hear her say all the time that she will always be there for her children. I wonder if that's really going to happen with the amount that she smokes. I don't mean to sound like a pessimist, but I've seen the effects that smoking has on a person.

My father smokes and my mother used to smoke. My mother got very sick a few years ago and was in the hospital with pneumonia and was diagnosed with C.O.P.D. I wish that had been enough to make my sister stop smoking. Afterall, she saw our own mother almost die. It wasn't enough though. I'll tell her sometimes that smoking is horrible for your body. I tell her about the chemicals. I tell her about the effects. She only gets angry at me for saying anything though. It's like she doesn't understand that I'm not trying to attack her but instead trying to help her. I know my sister has said that she wants to quit smoking. I've heard it several times.

My sister is a courageous person. She has been through a lot in her life that a lot of people haven't had to go through but she still wakes up every day and does what she can to keep going. She works hard every day taking care of her daughter and she's going to have to work even harder now that she's expecting a second. I want her to know how strong I think she is. I could only wish that I was half as strong as she is. I know that she can do this. I know she can quit! Nobody says it will be easy. She needs to do it though. If not for herself, for her kids. They deserve to grow up and have her in their lives. My sister is an amazing woman. I look up to her so much. She is my not just my sister, but my friend, and she is someone that I want to be around for as long as possible. I hope so much that she is able to break her addiction. She deserves so much more than what a cigarette has to offer.

Retribution & A Smoker

Forrest was my friend’s roommate. He gambled for money to buy cigarettes. The mind of a gambler is corrupt, when they are down it stimulates their urge to try again, in order to make up for what they now lost, (retribution) or in disappointment to losing, feeling the rush. His case is diseased and common. He now has two addictions, gambling, and smoking. But he can kill two birds with one stone if he takes care of his smoking addiction. No need to gamble, if there are no thoughts to smoke. Retribution is a common feeling that many struggle with today. It is hard to be passive, so I want to spread awareness. Smokers are ideal candidates to feel retribution as well. We don’t have the additional urge to gamble, or do we? To some extent, we will make bad decisions. Buying cigarettes with family or friends money, which is a gamble because you are unsure as to if your check is going to clear in a week is one example. Sometimes we smoke to feel better, as retribution to something not being your fault. Do not make matters worse, by making bad health your fault. Notice the signs of retribution and stop your thought process as soon as it strikes.

I post here as often as I can, visit my site for more of me, and check out my project it will make your day that much better.

What to Do With the Money I Saved From Quitting

The national average cost of a pack of cigarettes is around $6.00.  Therefore, a pack a day smoker spends nearly $45.00 a week on smokes.  If you spread this out for an entire year, it adds up to an astounding $2,340.00!  That is a lot of money to spend on something that will likely cause harm to your body. Read more

The Orphan Who Smoked Since He Was 13

The scruffy boy sat in front of our gate today for quite some time. He was waiting for me to get back inside so he could talk to me. He is 16 years old, but I've known him since he was 13. An orphan, having had his father murdered (and with the murderer of his father also murdered), he is a permanent drifter in this community. He is an outcast within his own family and a petty thief.

The first time I met him, he wanted to buy some coconuts. I was quite taken aback, as I never really encountered children who wanted to buy coconuts and who were openly smoking in front of adults. The people here couldn't care less what the children in their community did, not unless it affected them.

Back then, I asked him "Why do you want to buy coconuts and why are you smoking?"

His eyes were blank, shifting from left to right and his non smoking hands were always busy scratching. As is normal in these parts, he replied with an indecipherable mumble with only the word, "rice" being the only coherent word. 

I wish I could help this kid, but as a smoker myself, I fully understand how nicotine addiction can very well take over your life. Since I've known this kid for 3 years now, I always see him smoking along with the other delinquents. I think to myself that I am like him in a way.

I remember telling him once or twice to stop smoking. He just looked at me with bemusement, as if saying – "How about you? You're also smoking." After I told him that, I asked some of the elders here who couldn't care less what this kid does. That was when I found out about his story. To add to that, they've also told me how his father once tied him to a tree that was full of "guyam" and "antik" – the nastiest of the tropical ant species you could find here in the Philippines. 

Today, I've somewhat given up hope that this kid will change. He is not that smart, and I can't even solve my own problems with smoking. We are both the same, surrounded by a lot of people who smoke, and a lot of people who couldn't care less about the health hazards that smoking brings. 

I don't know what will happen to this child in the future. That is as open-minded as I can get about how I view this reality. It's better than what the others here say, that this child has no future. 

So why does he smoke? 

He probably smokes to fend off his hunger, to forget about the dire poverty he is in, to amuse himself amongst his friends or probably to make himself feel like he is one with the community. 

A community of smokers.

Creative commons image via Flickr


My Wife Writes: Being the Wife of a Smoker

Hi all, this is Danny and I’d like to introduce my wife Rowena, here. I let her use my account. I haven’t read nor edited what she wrote and I’ll read it along with you after I click the submit button. Read more

Quitter for Today

I'm not going to lie, I've battled with smoking since the young age of 14 (I'm now in my 30s). Unfortunately peer pressure got me early, and I have been smoking on and off ever since. I've evolved from a peer pressured, full-on smoker to a social smoker, to a smoke-when-I-drink smoker, then back to full-on smoking again, and so on and so forth.  My last relapse was after having quit for six years. Now, I've been 100% smoke free for the past eight months, and here's how I try to get back on track each time…

Not unlike an alcoholic, I've decided: once an addict, always an addict. I treat my addiction to smoking in the same manner, applying the one day at a time approach.  By setting short-term, as opposed to long-term or lifelong goals I find it easier to say no.  With each smoke free day that goes by, I am mentally stronger going into the next.  

For today I'm breathing with Happy Lungs. Tomorrow is a mystery!

Day 9: The Big Push to May and Mind Hacking

10:06 AM 29 April 2013. Monday Morning Philippine Time

I sit on my chair and I hear the constant whirring of some unknown insect species outside. They probably number in the thousands, with most of them perched inside the prickly bark of the almighty Ana-ih tree which is nearby. I glance sideways towards the street and I hear a roving campaign truck blaring its incoherent political jingle. I take note that it cycles every 16 seconds. I try my best to ignore it and wait until it fades away into nothing.

I feel the strong urge to go outside and smoke but I stop myself and go here instead. Besides, I've already had my 6th today and by May, I should be going down to 5.

5 sticks a day all consumed before lunch time. 

There's only 2 days left until the "Big Push" happens and I'm going to need all the willpower I can muster to do so. Right now, I'm even thinking of making a bigger push rather than the half hearted target that I set for myself. 5 sticks a day isn't a monumental improvement, it's almost the same as smoking 10 sticks. 

So far, I've managed to keep to the regimen of smoking only in the morning, especially since the hardest time to control the urges happens right when I wake up. 

Why Waking Up is the Hardest Time for Smokers

Getting up from bed with a very strong feeling of desire pulls me like an invisible force towards the nearest supply of cigarettes. In my mind, that's the convenience store. Physically, everything in my body is screaming for it, drawing me to its power from the time I regain consciousness. 

My parched throat forces me to cough, one, two and then, three times. The bitter taste in my mouth beckons me to replace it with something I deeply associate with pleasure. It begs soothing and I know that it's both psychological and physiological. I struggle to find my spectacles and reach for them on the side table. I get up, and instinctively head toward the bathroom to wash my face. 

That's the moment when I know that I have to make a split second decision on whether to smoke or not. Thousands of times, the decision has always been to smoke.

"It feels good in the morning along with coffee and heck, we're all going to die anyway, some day."

The funny thing about it, is I know that it's wrong. My reasoning is stale and weak. But somehow, the thought processes involved in the split second decision-making has a certain override switch that trumps everything that my reasoning can afford me. Maybe the pleasure and comfort that it provides (especially during moments of tension) are simply too overpowering. I guess that's the specific time I have to focus the most. I need to establish either a work around or a replacement to ensure success. 

Troubleshooting the mind

The mind is an elaborate maze that is still so little understood. We know how to program it. Some know how to fix it and still, some claim to know all the secrets to the power it holds. But on a personal level, for me, it is a curious being that seems to be able to control everything I do despite its own protests. Yet I also know that this would be the sole key to solving the problem of my nicotine addiction. 

Upon identifying this key moment when I decide to smoke at the start of the day, I now know that I need to do something to disrupt the thought processes involved. Changing the variables and the pattern could alter the normal course that it takes for the day. By doing so, it could also alter the rest of the thought processes lead up to my smoking.