Day Eighty Two

Days Without a Cigarette: 81.56875
Days Without Nicotine: 24.56875
Dollars Saved: $345.81
Time Saved: 115 hours, 33 minutes

I can’t say for certain that I’ve gone a whole day at this point without thinking about cigarettes, because realizing you’ve gone the whole day without thinking about something forces you to think about that thing. So, by necessity, if I went a whole day without thinking about cigarettes, I wouldn’t have noticed it. I mean, I guess I could keep notes every time I thought about them and look back over the data to discover the note-less days, but to be honest, I’m not that concerned. Even without the proof in hand, I’m pretty confident that by now I’ve gone an entire day without thinking about smoking more than once.

If you’d told me in December that I’d reach that point before the end of February, I couldn’t have believed you. While I fully expected I’d eventually get there, I was thinking it would come on the scale of years, not weeks. I mean, ‘day eighty two’ seems impressive, but I’m still less than three months removed from my last cigarette. And while I can’t say for certain that I’ve gone whole days without thinking about smoking, I can definitely confirm that I’ve gone whole days without craving them.

And I should note that my doubt wasn’t entirely based on paranoia. While I’d never tried to quit smoking before, I had gone long periods without cigarettes a few times… depending on how generously you want to define “long periods”, that is. For a few years I did an annual fast that required giving up cigarettes for five days. I’ve taken multi day hiking trips without enough cigarettes to make me through. I’ve had oral surgeries that require not smoking for several days. And it was these prior experiences that I was building my expectations around – these periods of ceaseless and overwhelming misery. When I’d gone without cigarettes before, I thought about them constantly and craved one every fifteen minutes or so for days on end. It stood to reason that quitting for good would be similar.

In fact, that expectation is built into the advice people give smokers trying to quit. One of the most ubiquitous tips is to take it one day at a time, or even one hour at a time. I heard this over and over again as I approached my quit date: “Don’t think about next month or next year; don’t get overwhelmed with the thought of never having a cigarette again as long as you live. Just worry about getting through the next hour, and then worry about getting through the hour after that.”

And while I understand the utility of that advice, there’s also something to be said for doing the exact opposite. When I’d given up cigarettes for a few days or a few dozen miles, it was a constant source of misery because some part of my body knew that I was going to eventually get more nicotine. It was like looking at the clock at a bad job. Every minute ticked by so damn slow precisely because I knew that some number of minutes had to expire before I could have another smoke.

This time around, I got to remove that. So when my id started calling for a cigarette, I didn’t say “just make it through this one more hour”, I said, “tough shit, you’re never getting another one of those so get the fuck over it.” The very fact that the next minute or the next hour or the next day offers no reprieve makes this minute less exceptional. It removes one of the sources of frustration.

And, of course, all of this is just a round about way of addressing the decreasing frequency of this blog. It’s not something I’m going to apologize for or work to rectify. Part of thinking about cigarettes less often is thinking about this blog less often. I’m not retiring it or anything, as I’m sure I’ll have more to say on the subject going forward, but being an ex-smoker has already retreated to the back of my consciousness most days, and I’m perfectly happy to leave it there.

Day Seventy Two

Days Without a Cigarette: 71.702777
Days Without Nicotine: 14.702777
Dollars Saved: $291.81
Time Saved: 101 hours, 35 minutes

When I was living in New York, I had a friend that moved to the west coast. He was a smoker when he left, but he quit shortly thereafter. Or at least that was his claim. But about a year later, when he flew back to the city to see his family, he was smoking again. So I ribbed him about it a little and he explained that he only smoked when he was travelling.

To be honest, friend or no, I dismissed it as bullshit. He only smoked when all the people he told he was gonna quit could check on him? That seemed awfully convenient. Besides, who the hell selectively smokes? Isn’t the whole thing that it’s an addiction that can’t be turned on and off?

Well, after my first experience travelling as a nonsmoker, I feel like owe my friend an apology. Not that I smoked on my trip (no tobacco, at least), but holy shit do I get it now. I can totally see why one might want to carve an exception into their nonsmoking policy when they’re dealing with long distance travel.

I wondered about it on the last blog post. I was hoping being a nonsmoker would make a cross country flight a little less miserable, what with the lack of nicotine withdrawal, but I was pretty sure it would swing the other way. I was pretty sure that lack of a calming security blanket at the end of the flight would bring me to impromptu hair-removal status. In fact, when I committed to quit, I intentionally delayed the quit date until after I’d taken care of a bunch of travel out of exactly that fear.

And yes, as I got done with the nine hours of flying and layover-ing, trekked to the “fuck ride share” LAX subsidiary where you catch Ubers now, and settled into a 85 minute 12 mile drive through Los Angeles traffic at 6 pm on a weekday, all I could think about was a cigarette. But I didn’t want to chime in for the first time in over a week just to bitch and complain about how hard it was not to smoke. I also noticed a couple of really cool things about being a nonsmoker this week.

For example, I noticed how nice it was to just sit in a restaurant with your friends after the meal and not leave until somebody else suggests it. And once we did step out of the restaurant, I didn’t have to ask everybody to wait a couple minutes before they ordered the Uber, and not because I’d chosen to suck my head inside out trying to choke down a cigarette in the eighty seconds the app afforded me. I didn’t have to get to the airport early and stand in the filthy little smoker pen, and I didn’t have to march out of it like a man on fire at the other end of the flight. I didn’t have to walk by the person at the hotel lobby every hour or so and go stand at the edge of the parking lot. I got to take pictures with the audience right after the show was over instead of sneaking away for five minutes and then coming back wreaking of whatever body spray they had at the CVS.

Honestly, the fact that I don’t wake up coughing in the morning and the fact that my wife has a much lower chance of dying young from lung cancer should be plenty. And if that isn’t enough, all those dollar at the top of the post should fill in the margins. But it turns out there’s actually even more to it than that.

Day Sixty Three

Days Without a Cigarette: 62.74791667
Days Without Nicotine: 5.74791667
Dollars Saved: $232.41
Time Saved: 88 hours, 55 minutes

I can’t decide if I’ve got another gauntlet to pass through this weekend, or if I’ve got a victory lap to take.

This weekend we’ve got a live show in LA, so I’ve gotta fly across the country this week and spend most of my day tomorrow in airports and on airplanes. Which is something that I fucking hate. And I honestly can’t decide if this is gonna be a test of my ability to not smoke or a celebration of being a nonsmoker.

On the one hand, few things frustrate me more that the whole airline experience. Airport security is certainly the worst aspect of it, but sitting still for hours at a stretch with fuck all to do, overpaying for shitty food, random and poorly communicated delays, and even the architecture of airports themselves all serve to exacerbate that base level of frustration. In the past, of course, I’d reach the finish line on one of these ordeals, haul ass to the first outdoor spot I was legally allowed to elbow my way into, and suck down three cigarettes. But now, with nothing having stepped up to replace nicotine as my go-to frustration antidote, I’ll just have to move straight from that airline experience to LA traffic.

Of course, there’s a flip side to that coin, since nicotine is both the villain and the hero in this story. Sure, it always did a great job calming me down after the flight, but how much of the frustration was just the byproduct of being forced to go without a cigarette for the duration of the flight? Was the cigarette providing a genuine service or was it just cleaning up the mess it made?

Frankly, I’m inclined to believe the former. While I seriously doubt that I’m about to discover that flying is a wonderful experience when you’re a nonsmoker, I’m pretty sure I’m about to find it to be less miserable. And for the first time in my life, I’m gonna really appreciate the fact that domestic flights no longer have a smoking section.

Day Fifty Seven

Days Without a Cigarette: 56.80208333
Days Without Nicotine: 0.34375*
Dollars Saved: $194.61
Time Saved: 80 hours, 28 minutes

As of today, that second ticker starts moving. Days without nicotine? No longer zero. Sort of. On the advice of Melissa, I actually left the patch from yesterday on today, so some trace amount of nicotine is technically still getting into my system, but it’s effectively nothing. It’s more of a security blanket than a nicotine delivery system. And to be perfectly honest with you, I haven’t noticed a difference. If anything, today is actually a bit easier than yesterday, because yesterday I was dreading the idea of having to go without any nicotine at all the next day.

As you may have noticed if you’ve been reading along, I’ve been really nervous about this moment. I’ve been looking at it as the ‘boss villain’ of quitting. But it turns out that the cessation program has it worked out pretty well. After eight weeks of weaning myself off, it really was just another step down the stairs.

I can feel the panic setting in on my id right now. For the last few weeks, I’ve caught it preparing rationalizations for this moment. It wanted to make sure that if things got rough enough, I had a nice soft bed of excuses to fall into if I should want to give up. I guess it was hoping this was gonna be its last great stand. So when I’m not careful, it’s been sneaking into the back of my brain and pointing out what a very good effort I gave it. It’s been whispering that all the people I committed to would be a bit disappointed, sure, but they wouldn’t feel like I’d neglected them. Eight weeks is a pretty solid attempt, after all. And the physical addiction isn’t as malleable as the psychological one. To a degree, you can muscle your way through a psychological addiction, but is the same true of a physical one? My id thinks not.

But instead of a fortified line of trenches, this latest obstacle seems to be a dip in the road that scarcely merits a sign. The passage from non-smoker to non-nicotine user turned out to be a lot like a state line in the middle of a long trip. It feels like progress, sure, but it’s just one mile closer than the last mile and one further than the next.

And again, I’m sorry that it wasn’t more eventful. I’ve been building this up on the blog for a while now, but it passed with a whimper. And to be honest with you, I’m not even sure what milestones there really are after this one. Sure, I’ll have anniversaries. I’ll pass my hundredth day without a cigarette, I’ll save my thousandth dollar, I’ll go a whole day without thinking about smoking. And all of those milestones will matter as much as this one because every trip is just a series of milestones. But the trip was to “Non smoker”, and I’ve made it there. From here on out, I’m just driving around non-smoker and seeing what the world looks like on this side of the line.

Day Fifty Five

Days Without a Cigarette: 54.5708333
Days Without Nicotine: 0
Dollars Saved: $178.41
Time Saved: 77 hours, 19 minutes

Here I sit, closing in on the eighth week, desperately nervous about the milestone that stands ahead of me. My patches are an eight week program. I’m hours away from the part of this ordeal where I actually give up nicotine.

As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, I’ve got every reason to be nervous. I forgot to put a patch on one morning and within hours I was crawling up the walls. Up until that moment, I thought I was doing great. Hell, when I realized I hadn’t put on the patch, I didn’t rush to put one on. Instead I decided to let it play out in the silly hope that I could save forty bucks on the last box of patches.

That being said, I also have a counter example that balances that fear out a bit. Because I have an extra patch in the box.

I suppose it’s possible that I just got the box that they accidentally put too many patches in, but that’s very unlikely. I worked at a pharmaceutical packaging plant once and, as you’d hope, they’re pretty fucking serious about the right amount of everything going into the right packages. The much more likely explanation is that there was also a day where I forgot to put on a patch that I didn’t notice.

That’s not to say that I spent a day not wearing one. I almost always wear them overnight and my routine is to swap them out around eleven in the morning, regardless of when I wake up. The patches are waterproof so I’m used to wearing them in the shower. All it would have taken is forgetting to swap one out and not realizing it all day.

Of course, even a used patch delivers some amount of nicotine. The packaging warns you to be careful how you dispose of it, as the residual nicotine could harm your pets or your kids if they fish it out of the trash. So if I’d forgotten to swap out my patch one day, it would have still given me some small amount of nicotine, but it would have been next to nothing. The step three patches that I’m on now are smaller than a quarter. They deliver 7 milligrams of nicotine over a 24 hour period, which is the equivalent of smoking about four cigarettes. And I was getting the left overs of that. Basically it would have been like smoking four cigarette butts. And yet, I didn’t notice anything missing.

And that’s a great boost to my confidence, but to be honest, I don’t think I want my confidence boosted. I think I wanna go into this next part the same way I went into the first part. I’ve talked to too many people who said they were fine when they were on the medicine or using the patch or whatever, only to fall back into the arms of Joe Camel once the nicotine substitute was gone. I’ve almost kicked the psychological habit. I only think about going out for a cigarette once or twice a day at this point. But I’ve barely even started on the physical addiction. I know most people say the former is easier, but that’s not universally true. And I’ve gotta go into this assuming that it won’t be.

Day Fifty Two

Days Without a Cigarette: 51.6875
Days Without Nicotine: 0
Dollars Saved: $162.21
Time Saved: 73 hours, 14 minutes

They say that you can’t quit smoking if you don’t really want to. And I suppose that’s true, but mostly because it’s tautological. The act of quitting smoking (at least as near as I can tell) is a long series of asking yourself, “but do you really want a cigarette?” and managing to say ‘no’ every time. So of course you can’t do it if you don’t want to do it. But this is often presented as something unique to giving up nicotine or to severing an addiction. It’s actually just one of those things that’s true of all the hard stuff. You can’t learn to play violin if you don’t really want to either.

So what purpose does this observation serve?

I think it’s often – or perhaps even exclusively – deployed as an excuse. It’s an excuse that smokers offer their loved ones, it’s an excuse loved ones offer their smokers, and it’s an excuse that smokers offer themselves. And in all of these instances, it serves a slightly different purpose.

When a smoker offers it to their loved ones, it’s usually an excuse not to quit. As a smoker, you’re likely to be the recipient of a “if you loved me” challenge from your significant other at some point. And if you never get that, you might issue one to yourself upon having kids. I know a lot of smokers who had their first kid and plagued themselves with the thought that if they really loved that kid they’d quit smoking and (a) be around longer, (b) set a better example for their child, and (c) spend that money on them.

But alas, for most of us, the answer to “do you love me enough to quit smoking?” is no, regardless of who’s asking or how much they love you. Love and willpower are entirely different things and neither is a measure of the other. So the “you have to really want to quit” thing is often deployed as an armor against these challenges. “I can’t quit smoking for you, my wife/husband/girlfriend/boyfriend/partner/child/whatever, I could only do it for me.”

When a loved one offers it to their smoker, it’s usually just as bad. People often hear this kind of thing when they fail. If you try to quit and you fail at it, the people around you might, with the best of intentions, start gift wrapping this excuse for you. This is doubly true if you’re a person who has a long line of failed attempts behind you.

This is normally offered up as a source of hope. You failed this time because you didn’t really want it. You just medium wanted it. There are units of ‘wanting’, and you simply haven’t accumulated enough of them yet, but hopefully next time you’ll have saved up a few more. But you won’t. It doesn’t work like that. Yes, you can want something more or less, but the whole trick to quit smoking is making yourself want to quit more than you want to smoke. If you tried to quit and failed, you obviously didn’t want it enough.

So the smoker falls off the wagon and this excuse catches them. They might even be tempted to curl up inside it for a while and pretend that there’s a temporal aspect to this that they have no control over. They tried out quitting, they didn’t have sufficient “want” in their “desire bar”, and now they’ve gotta wait around while it builds back up. And that’s dangerous because that’s not how it fucking works. If you failed in your attempt to quit, there’s something you did wrong along the way. You can try to find ways of addressing it for the next time you try, but just ‘wanting harder’ isn’t gonna move the needle.

But all of that pales in comparison to the danger that excuse can have when smokers tell it to themselves. It’s usually an excuse to postpone quitting to some indefinite time in the future or to pin the blame for the latest failure on some intangible, unquantifiable deficiency. And ultimately it relies on the misconception that ‘want’ is something that happens to you; as though some cloud of free floating ambition is just waiting for you to stumble through it and galvanize yourself for the next attempt.

So sure, you have to want to quit smoking to quit smoking. The same is generally true of turning your head to the left. And when a thing is entirely in your power to obtain, ‘wanting sufficiently’ and ‘doing’ are synonyms.

Day Fifty

Days Without a Cigarette: 49.88958333
Days Without Nicotine: 0
Dollars Saved: $150.41
Time Saved: 70 hours, 41 minutes

I feel like an asshole every time people ask me about the benefits of quitting. I’m not trying to be petulant about it, but you’d never guess that from my answers. People ask “have you noticed that your sense of taste and smell have gotten better?” or “do you have more energy?” or “can you exercise longer?” and to each of those I have to answer “no.” Or, to be honest, I have to answer “no” to the first two and “how the hell would I know?” to the last one.

The one clear benefit of quitting that I have noticed is a marked decrease in wheezing, phlegmy coughs. Hell, our listeners have noticed a marked decrease in them just based on the sound of my laugh. But with that exception, I don’t have any of the typical “guy who just quit smoking” benefits to brag about. And what I do have to brag about, as it turns out, is pretty controversial.

For most of my life, I only knew migraine headaches by reputation. But at some point in my mid thirties my brain realized it was way behind its migraine quota and made a concerted effort to catch up. They get better and worse, of course, but ‘better’ is one or two migraines a week, and ‘worse’ is one or two a day.

This was my life for at least the last eight years. And then, on the day I quit smoking, they stopped.

At first I was reluctant to draw a line between those two things. They weren’t common, but I’d had spells where I’d go a full week without a migraine now and again, so at first I wrote it off as coincidence. But that was followed by another week, which was followed by another. And now the omnipresent bottle of Excedrin Migraine that I keep on my desk (and the one I keep in my car, and the one I keep in my medicine chest, and the one I keep in my backpack) have been collecting dust for seven weeks and a day.

To be clear, that’s not supposed to happen. The internet is bursting with lists of the myriad benefits of giving up cigarettes and this isn’t one of them. In fact, it’s generally the exact opposite. I was really concerned by all the warnings I saw that suggested I was likely in for an increase in headaches as I weaned by body off of nicotine. And if you ask WebMD if quitting smoking will clear up (or even lessen) your migraines, they’ll give you an unequivocal no.

Of course, there are ways that cigarettes are linked to headaches. Smoking decreases your liver’s ability to breakdown analgesics, apparently, so it can make headaches harder to shake. The smell of cigarette smoke can trigger headaches in some people. But apparently the current science doesn’t show a link between the restricted blood flow caused by cigarette smoking and the onset of headaches of any kind. And overall, the data show a marked increase in headaches for former smokers.

All that being said, it’s still hard to believe that by coincidence eight years streak of more than a hundred migraines a year just ended abruptly at the same time I quit smoking. What the data show is that there’s no statistical correlation between the two things, meaning it would be careless for me to suggest to others that giving up cigarettes would cure their migraines. It would also be careless for me to assume mine were cured. They might just be on hiatus. Or maybe they’re just building up for the big one when I give up nicotine altogether. But that doesn’t mean that my particular migraines can’t be cured by eliminating the cigarettes. Heads are some complicated shit and all the data can point to are statistical trends. My circumstance may be atypical, but that doesn’t mean there’s no relation. The most important trend in my case is the correlation between “days without a cigarette” and “days without a headache.”

But for the moment, regardless of the culprit, I’m wrapping up my fiftieth consecutive migraine-less day. And as any migraine sufferer will tell you, that’s at least as worthy of celebrating as the seven weeks without a cigarette.

Day Forty Seven

Days Without a Cigarette: 46.97222
Days Without Nicotine: 0
Dollars Saved: $128.81
Time Saved: 66 hours, 32 minutes

It wouldn’t be right to say that I miss smoking cigarettes and it certainly wouldn’t be accurate to say that I want to go back to smoking. But I kind of want to want to go back to smoking.

Let me preempt any further explanation by stating up front that I’m not wishing death on any of my loved ones or hoping for a terminal disease diagnosis. I don’t want anything terrible to happen to my friends or my family. That being said, it does repeatedly occur to me that if something bad enough happened, nobody would give me shit for going back to smoking cigarettes. I think to myself, “Man, sure would suck to find out I had six months to live, but on the bright side, I could smoke all the cigarettes I wanted between now and then.” Cigarettes have come to represent the consolation prize for rock bottom in my mind.

That’s a bad thing for more reasons than how macabre it is to think about the upshot of a death in the family. It means that somewhere at my core, I still think of myself as a smoker without a sufficient excuse. But it also means that my habit is hiding right around the corner of the next personal tragedy in my life. I’ve lived a pretty charmed life up to this point and I’m way overdue for some personal tragedy, and between now and then I need to exorcise this notion that smoking is okay if I’m depressed enough.

Of course, this all goes back to the identity aspect that has become the recurring theme of this blog. In my mind, I couldn’t truly even reach rock bottom without a cigarette in my hand. And sure, it’ll be problematic if I think that the death of a loved one is a ready excuse to go back to smoking, but it’ll be even more problematic if I manage to convince myself that I can’t really be mourning or depressed if I haven’t even gone back to smoking cigarettes over it yet.

It really says a lot about what an insidious habit this is that it’s left me considering the bright side of brain tumors. I can feel the addiction worming its way into that part of my brain, as if to say, “Okay, I’ll go away for now, but if you ever find yourself truly overwhelmed, I’ll be waiting.” That means that the present assignment is to evict that motherfucker between now and the next time I feel truly overwhelmed.

Day Forty Four

Days Without a Cigarette: 43.547222
Days Without Nicotine: 0
Dollars Saved: $112.61
Time Saved: 61 hours, 42 minutes

I passed over several milestones a couple days ago that I didn’t even bother to mention on the blog. Six weeks without a cigarette, 1000 hours without a cigarette (thanks to Jeff for pointing that one out), and most importantly, step three on the nicotine patches.

The program starts with a big ass patch that delivers 21mg of nicotine per day, which is what they recommend for people who smoked more than twelve cigarettes a day. Apparently if you’ve already cut yourself down to half a pack a day, you get to start on step two. I very much had not, so I spent four weeks on that first step (as recommended by the manufacturer).

Two weeks ago I moved on to step two, which drops the nicotine level down to 14mg per day. And I’ve gotta admit, I didn’t really notice a difference when I made that move. I just didn’t have to dedicate quite as much shoulder to the patch.

Yesterday I moved on to step three, which drops you all the way down to 7mg of nicotine a day, and I fucking noticed. I’d been awake all of two hours before I had my first craving. That’s after two straight days of not having a craving until after dark. Within an hour, I’d had a second. And not only were the cravings coming more frequently, they were also much stronger when they arrived. Most of the recent ‘cravings’ leading up to that day were just me thinking ‘I want a cigarette’ followed by me thinking ‘no I don’t.’ But these ones had a distinctly “‘yes you do’ follow up” kinda feel to them.

So far, today hasn’t been as bad. I did have another early craving, but it wasn’t as strong as the ones I was getting yesterday. Hopefully in another few days, my body will have adjusted to this level. But it’s all been another great reminder the boss villain still awaits.

And ultimately, I think that’s why I’ve been doing this blog. As much as I appreciate those of you who are reading along, since the beginning I’ve been thinking of it as more of a diary than an outward facing document. I’m keeping everyone in the loop because that comes with bonus accountability, and so that other people who are quitting along with me or afterwards can find a sympathetic voice. But the real purpose of writing it is to remind myself what I’m doing.

I’m sure that some people in my position would want to stop thinking about cigarettes altogether, and the sooner the better. But that’s not how my brain works. If I’m not thinking about quitting, I’ll forget I’m quitting. And if I forget I’m quitting, I’ll forget why I’m quitting. And then, when I hit a bump in the road like the drop from 14mg to 7mg, I’ll be way more likely to have lost track of why I was putting myself through this ordeal. And while I’m sure I’d remember eventually, I’m not sure I’d remember quick enough to avoid fucking it up.

But keeping this blog forces me to reflect on not only what I’ve been through, but what I still have to go through. More than that, though, it forces me to think about the differences in my life. To track the dollars and see the hours and think about what it was like when I had to bundle up and walk out into the cold every hour and a half or so to suck down a cigarette; what it was like to feel enslaved by a goddamn plant; what it felt like to listen to random strangers lecture me about my health choices and know I had no intellectual recourse beyond “yeah, but fuck you.”

So – you know – apologies if you feel used.

Day Forty Two

Days Without a Cigarette: 41.89375
Days Without Nicotine: 0
Dollars Saved: $101.81
Time Saved: 59 hours, 21 minutes

I still take cigarette breaks and I have no intention of giving that up. The way I figure it, if I could carve ten minutes out of every ninety to give myself cancer six weeks ago, pretty much anything I piss eleven percent of my time away on is a step up. Plus, I don’t want to create an unnecessary downside, so why punish myself for quitting with a more demanding work schedule?

Of course, I haven’t quite figured out what to do with that time yet. I’ve been playing Super Hot VR quite a bit, but I find that sucks me in way longer than the ten minutes I’m looking for. My wife bought be an ocarina for Christmas and that struck me as a perfect oral fixation substitute, so I’ve practiced that on a few of those breaks, but I find that ten minutes is either too long or too short a time to fuck with that. But luckily I’ve got plenty of hobbies to choose from.

When I was soliciting advice before this endeavor started, a lot of people emphasized the importance of rewarding oneself along the way. And as logical as that seems, it didn’t seem particularly applicable, as I deny myself literally nothing I both want and could theoretically obtain. I have no self control, so if I ever want something bad for me, I just have that thing. It’s hard to reward yourself when you’re an unapologetic glutton. In fact, the only thing that I want and can’t have is a goddamn cigarette, and I can’t exactly reward myself with one of those.

But what I’ve found is that the simple decrease in guilt has allowed my gluttony to become rewarding. I eat something unhealthy and rather than think “wow, I should not be eating doughnuts for breakfast and lunch again this week”, I think “wow, this is so much healthier than smoking.” Rather than thinking “wow, I really need to get back to work or I’ll still be hammering away at this script at one in the morning”, I think “wow, this game of Space Invaders is so much more fun that standing out in the near freezing wind and seeing how quick I can suck down a cigarette without the cherry falling off of it.” I used to think “Man, I really shouldn’t buy two games in the same month” and now I get to glance over at the latest blog entry and see how much money I haven’t spent on cigarettes.

I mean, I get that ultimately I’m just making excuses for being a ten year old with a paycheck, but even that is so much more forgivable a vice than smoking. And, of course, anytime all of that shit doesn’t feel like enough of a reward, I reflect on the fact that I probably get to be ten years old a little longer now.