I once decided to give up alcohol, declaring impetuously to myself that I didn’t even like it. The following day, I went to the cinema with a friend of mine. Let’s call her Egbertilda. We went to the pub afterwards for a drink. I ordered an orange juice. “So, you’re still off the booze?” asked Egbertilda. I had been about to proudly anounce my new lifestyle choice. I had forgotten that I had also given up drinking about a month before, which was the last time I had met her.
I start on a new course of self-improvement about once every three or four days, so for something as sustained as Project Connor to go on this long is incredible. This is my fiftieth blogpost, which is very impressive for me.
My smoking pledge of Thursday night carried on for 48 hours. I found it incredibly difficult and I did it. It is very difficult to do stuff while giving up smoking. All you’re thinking about is cigarettes. People who don’t smoke don’t understand withdrawal. They ask what it feels like. It’s basically just a voice inside you saying “I want a cigarette”. That doesn’t sound too bad, but the voice just repeats itself again and again and again, over and over, grinding you down, terrifying you, making you feel like a worthless piece of chewing gum stuck to the sole of a homeless woman’s bust-up shoe.
I was in the Alps yesterday, with a colleague and some friends. It was stunningly beautiful. None of the people I was with had ever smoked, so it was a great idea – I was as far away from cigarettes as you can get. However, as the day went on I started to negotiate with the voice inside my head. I told it that I’d eat something to shut it up. I did. It didn’t shut up. I told the voice I’d have a glass of coke to shut it up. I had the coke. The voice screamed. (I realise that this dialogue with the “voice” reads like something from Dawson’s Creek – the later years- when nobody was watching any more – when Joey was discovering her womanhood, Pacey was discovering the joy of cooking and Dawson was being even less interesting – I apologise).
I was dropped home at 9:50 pm last night. I’d been off cigarettes for approximately 48 hours, 27 minutes. I had reasoned for too long with the voice. It overwhelmed me! I set out to find cigarettes. By far the most annoying thing about Ljubljana is that the shops are never open. Never. Most shops, including big supermarkets, close at 1 or 2 pm on Saturday and don’t open until Monday morning. My fag hunt was extensive. I walked out towards the suburbs in the hopes of finding some kind of late-night shop. I had no luck. Even the petrol stations close at 10:00. I started going from pub to pub in the hope that one of them sold cigarettes. I was answered with “no” after “no” until eventually one kindly woman, who had jarringly white make-up and jarringly red hair (red like a coke label – not like a carrot or a chestnut) told me that they sold cigarettes with drink. I sighed and ordered a small beer. She looked at me with incredible pity – the kind of pity I thought only my mother was capable of – and told me she wouldn’t tell her boss. Then she winked at me and sold me 20 Marlboro Lights.
The kindly redhead didn’t have any lighters for sale. I went home and dug my old lighter out of the bin, where I had thrown it on Thursday. It was filthy. I sat down and had a cigarette. It tasted exactly like my first ever cigarette, like burning paper and burning plants. It was horrible. I was going to put it out, but I didn’t. By the time I went to bed, I had had nine cigarettes.
I woke up feeling bleurgh. Very bleurgh.
There was a brand new layer of phlegm resting on my throat, and that horrible metallic taste which I’ve had in mouth for the best part of 15 years.
I finished the pack.
I gave up again at 6:30 this evening. This week I have only two goals. I don’t care what I eat. I don’t care what time I get out of bed. I don’t care whether or not I do a good job at work. I don’t care whether or not I wash the dishes. I don’t even care whether or not I brush my teeth.
I am not going to smoke, and I’m going to put myself through an exercise bootcamp. I’m going to up my running times. I’m going to go up and down the seven flights of stairs in my block every day. I’m going to get back into strength training. I’m going to drown the voice of cigarettes in exercise.
I’m not down two stone yet. I’ll leave the weigh-in as late as possible. I’ll publish one set of results before I come back to Dublin on Saturday. I really want it to be two stone. Exercise bootcamp will help.