"If My Body’s A Temple…

…then why have I been treating it like an
Elks Lodge?”

It’s 4:30 in the morning, and the past fifteen minutes of gurgling and hacking finally come to an end with a sputtering cough … followed by five short beeps. 
That’s my alarm clock.
Not the beeps  they’re hardly audible from my room. 
I’m referring to the smell  to the robust, nostril-flaring aroma of that mountain-grown, good-to-the-last-drop, best-part-of-waking-up elixir from Juan Valdez. 
Coffee.
I never turn on the lamp, but grope my way to the kitchen, rounding the corner where the stove’s hood light casts its 40-watt glow across the counter. I’m a mole.
More groping in the cabinet, feeling for the biggest mug  there, in the second row  the striped one with the thick ear. I yawn, stretch, and pour. Two hefty teaspoons of sugar, a quick, but thorough, stir, and I’m groping my way back to the room. Still no light.
Placing the cup on my nightstand and my ass on the bed, frantic fingers fumble across the tabletop until they find that familiar rectangular box which holds the pièce de résistance — those sinfully delicious ciggy butts.

I pop one betwixt my lips. Flick … light … draw. A cheery, orange-red glow washes over the room, and there, in the quiet solitude of my inner sanctum, it feels as though I’m channeling Salinger. The smoky exhale pulls toward the ceiling fan, dances its last jig, and dissipates.

And then … fifteen additional minutes of gurgling and hacking finally come to an end with a sputtering cough.

This has been my routine, my ritual, for more years than Carter has liver pills. It’s my French whore’s breakfast. And it’s killing me. I want to quit. I want to survive the Year of the Writer … and many more.

Never mind the reasons for smoking: parents, relatives, and everyone in the Mad Men world of mine who smoked; summers spent cropping, looping, hanging, and grading tobacco on the neighboring farms in North Carolina; the need for acceptance in some bohemian high school clique. Forget all that. Bottom line is — I smoke because I like it. Or at least I did. Now it has become an over-a-pack-a-day monkey-on-my-back.

I’m a firm believer of moderation in all things. God wants for our enjoyment, and most “bad” things aren’t bad for you until done in excess, and then they mutate into one of the Seven Deadly Sins. Lately, little-by-little, I’ve spelunked down the cave of gluttonous indulgence and need to put a stop to it. It’s been a long time coming.

The first hurdle was chilling out on the bottomless pots of coffee, which were making me edgy and bitchy … or maybe it was from living with two edgy, bitchy women. Regardless, I made the switch to Folger’s Half and Half (half decaf, half caf) on the first of the year. On occasion, I’ll treat myself to a full-bodied real cup, and am perfectly fine with that.

Cigarettes were another issue.

“Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I’ve done it a thousand times.”
– Mark Twain
I described my morning routine because it illustrated the depth of my addiction. It’s more than breaking the nicotine habit — that’s the relatively painless part of the process that passes in about three days. Like Mr. Clemens, I’ve done it a thousand times.
For me, it’s the psychological addiction that has been impossible to overcome — the relaxing act that calms the nervous hand-to-mouth habit, the instinctive impulse to reach for a stog whenever my writer’s well runs dry — cigs have become Mikey’s Little Helper.
Lollipops, Twizzlers, gum, hard candy … I’ve tried them all and more. It’s been apparent that the act of bringing my mitts to my face over and over and over again has become this imposing wall, impossible to scale. Needing a suitable substitute, I poured over countless websites doing research.
Introducing the e-cig:
   

Dubbed as “the safe cig,” the e-cigarette dispenses small amounts of nicotine in water vapor, therefore, one no longer smokes, instead, one “vapes.” The e-cig is more or less a personal nicotine vaporizer. There is no tobacco, tar, smoke, or any of the 4000 toxic chemicals found in a conventional cancer-stick.

But then came the FDA warnings concerning the vaporizing agent used, erroneously claiming it to be Diethylene Glycol (DG), a carcinogen found in anti-freeze, when in fact, it’s perfectly safe Propylene Glycol (PG) or Vegetable Glycol (VG) that provides the atomizing effect.

And they even confused the glycols. It is Ethylene Glycol (EG) that is an additive in anti-freeze, not DG. DG is actually a humectant for tobacco products, already found in 100% of regular cigarettes and 1 in 18 e-cigs. Where there’s nicotine, there’s DG.

But DG is found in many other consumable products, including toothpaste, aspirin, mouthwash, wine, cough syrup, fog machines, and the like. An excellent article written by Lew Rockwell, The E-cigarette vs. The FDA, alleviated my fears, and on the eighth of January, I bought my first disposable electronic cigarette from the convenience store.

It was $5.00, and claimed to be the equivalent of over two packs of smokes.

Taking it home and inhaling my first vape, I’ll have to honestly say, “Not bad. Not bad at all.” However, in my ignorance of e-ciggies, I bought a “light” as opposed to “full-flavor,” and I’m your typical, full-flavor Marlboro Man. Back to the store for a regular.

Disposables were a good testing ground to see if they were even a possibility in helping me quit. Would I take to them? At first the weight required some getting used to, as they are a little heavier and thicker than tobacco cigarettes, but after a couple of days, felt as natural as the real.

So, effective that Tuesday, six days ago, I became a member of The Vaping Squad. Sounds like a new entry into the YA vampire genre, doesn’t it?

I allow myself one tobacco cigarette in the morning and one at night and twain the two, take a few drags vapes from the e-Tron when the urge is great. Perhaps it will come down to one “natural” smoke after each finished novel, like James Caan’s character, Paul Sheldon, in Misery. I don’t know, but I’ve noticed that a couple of vapes is all that’s needed to satisfy me, unlike a whole tobacco cigarette that ribbons away into the air between puffs.

I’m off to the store today for another one. The first lasted this entire time. Score!

But disposables are almost as costly as a regular pack of stogs. Research and more research (there is a plethora of information out there) opened up a vast market of vaping paraphernalia heretofore unknown to me.

There’s a whole world of rechargeables (most economical), of flavored liquids, personal carriers and lanyards that sport your vice like an amulet. Starter kits that range from $40-$180 and more, as well as USB, wall, car, and portable chargers. What’s a new Vaper to do?

I quickly learned that most of the “informational” sites that offer comparisons are actually company-owned websites with a bias toward their brands, but after perusing through literally hundreds of blogs, found an independent site with a fellow vaper, a vapress, I suppose, called,

VAPEGRL: Honest, newbie-friendly e-cigarette
reviews and information.

For some reason, I trust her. She even states that she is a professional writer who admittedly:

“receives compensation from some of the companies whose e-cigarette products I review. Above all else, however, I am committed to providing the most accurate information possible and perform comprehensive testing on every product reviewed. If a product warrants a negative or neutral review, I will review it in that fashion, even if an affiliate relationship exists.”

Sounds pretty damn trustworthy, in my opinion. Driving this honesty home was the fact that she was personally researching the e-cigs on her own before ever soliciting her writing and reviewing services to the different companies. As writers, we have to do what we can to make a buck. Heck, if you’re testing out different brands, why not write about it and query the manufacturers?

And plus, she’s a damn good writer.

Her personal recommendation out of twenty-eight reviews?

Okay … I’m chuckling over the concept of a Version 2.0 cigarette. The starter kits range from $24.95 for a single rechargeable e-cig w/USB charger to the $179.00 $159.00 Ultimate Kit (marked down) which they tout, “comes with all the gadgets.”

And there are coupons! I seek out bargains.

For now, though, the three smokers vapers in this household will settle for the kit one step above the single cigg-e:

Another chuckle over needing a “User’s Manual.” I mean, that’s nice to have because these e-Trons didn’t come with squat, leaving me to blindly figure them out, but still … digital cigs. GUFFAW!

Once these kits arrive, we should have exhausted our current carton (get it? exhaust?), and become new converts to the Church of Immaculate Vaping.

As long as this helps me quit smoking. I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

Peace,
ML

Photo credits: Coffee and Cigarettes, Jeff Kopp; Smoker in the Dark, Luca Biada (Creative Commons)


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37 thoughts on “"If My Body’s A Temple…

  1. Hope it does help! Sorry, I've never had an addiction to either. My wife says I'm just odd because I don't have any addictions or vices. Unless you count Hot Tamales, and even then I don't go nuts.

  2. Here's to your success, Mike. I've been known as Darth Vapor now since the beginning of the year. Almost two full weeks with no tobacco. I went with the Green Smoke (rechargeable) brand, strongest strength and vanilla-flavored. (It's the only flavor I've tried and it's subtle enough to be enjoyed.)May the vapor be with you!

  3. I ended up getting the Victory e-cig. I checked into the Green Smoke…that's one of the most expensive. I thought you were a struggling writer like the rest of us!Anyway, it's a kit with the following: 21 cartridges, two batteries, car, USB, and wall charger, carrying case, and lanyard. Each month, 15 more cartridges are sent for $32. And you can cancel at anytime. $32 bucks a month? MUCH better than $40 bucks a week!All three of us got the Mega E starter kit.Darth Vaper. LOL.

  4. 2013 – The Year of the Writer! Gotta survive it!Thanks for your support, Julie. Although I've wanted to quit for a long time, friends like you inspire me to take action. :o)

  5. Well, my understanding of cigarette dependency just increased about a zillion-fold. For one thing, I had never associated it with spelunking before. All I can say is good luck, buddy. This is one challenge I'd have no idea how to tackle. But you sure have my moral support.

  6. See? This is yet another reason I'm quitting (or at least for now, switching): NONE of my friends smoke. I'm an outcast! I haven't hung around a smoking group since high school … my other personal hobbies, likes, and preferences don't attract a smoking crowd.I thought writing and smoking went hand-in-hand. :o)

  7. When I was a kid my oldest sister used to smoke and would sometimes send me and my brother to the neighborhood store to buy her some cigarettes (back when corner stores sold cigs to 9 yr old kids–can you believe it). Mostly because she gave us extra money to buy candy and ice cream sandwhiches for ourselves as a bribe. Anyhoo, one day at my sister's apartment (she's 11 years older) there was a half finished cig butt in the ashtray and when no one was around me and a friend got the lighter and smoked it. Didn't know how to smoke, just copying what we've seen adults do. After a few puffs of that thing, I felt nauseous and sick. That one experience turned me off from cigs the rest of my life. To this day the smell of them gives me headaches. So I can't really relate to your addiction, but I wish you all the best in your efforts to slay the dragon. My sister finally quit a thousand years ago, but I do recall it being very hard for her to do.

  8. Our baby-sitter used to smoke and we'd let her get the mini-packs (four cigs) from the boxes of c-rations my dad would get. We finally tried it (we were in 5th grade). It was neat, and felt grown-up, but I didn't inhale or anything at the time – just hold it and puff. I didn't really pick them up again until high school.I blame my twin sister! She wanted me to smoke with her so bad – she was relentless!

  9. You've shown a very beautiful narrative talent in the first passages, M.L.I've never smoked, drunk nor I'm a sugar or junkfood addict, so I'm not much of a help with breaking away from bad habits, but I'm wishing you all the luck. It is irresponsible towards your own body to smoke, so be strong and you will make it!

  10. M.L., I'm new to your blog and you can praise or blame Demetria for that! Could not "not' comment on this post as the subject matter is dear to my heart. I've been quit two years and three months now. Used Chantix (sp?)and have never looked back. Honestly, though, it took some getting used to when I sat down to write. Coffee on the right, cigarettes on the left.My concentration level evaporated like that last puff of smoke. Still struggling with that so I, too, bought an e-cig (same as you, e-tron)to see if it would help me focus better. It didn't. What it did however, was to make me realize I really like being a quitter and smoking is something I really no longer enjoy. Good luck. If you're ready, it'll happen.

  11. I feel for you, Mike. I quit smoking cold turkey October 3, 2005 and haven't gone back. Don't want to smoke. I can't explain why the last time worked compared to all the other times I tried. I guess I mentally wanted to. It was a struggle for 6 months – a struggle I had to take one second at a time, at least in the beginning. It was a constant mental game. I went from minute to minute, to hour to hour, then day to day then month to month. I had to keep telling myself "Jenny, you've been 3 hours. If you eff up now, you've destroyed everything you've worked for the past 3 hours." It was that same talk I did when I went 24 hours, then 48. After a while, I didn't even think about it. Now, I don't want one and I can't stand the way they smell. It's been seven years, going on eight. I gained weight and some other problems because of the weight gain, but my lungs are great and I never felt better. Good luck with your journey. You have someone in your corner egging you on. You can do it.

  12. I appreciate your support, Dezmond. I feel like I'm a member of Hell's Angels or something around all you squeaky clean-cut folks!Gotta get over to your site and see whatcha got concerning the Golden Globes!

  13. Lynn,Thanks for stopping by…yeah, that Demetria…such a bad influence! LOL. Congrats on two years! Honestly, regular smoking has become more of a ball and chain and I'm not enjoying it anymore, plus it's getting to my health, but I'm finding the e-cigs very soothing. A couple of vapes and I'm good.I can't hold it in my mouth by itself, though, to do things hands-free. Too heavy…but that's okay. I'm sure that they will be making them with the true weight and feel of a tobacco cig.Anyway, the point of using them is to hopefully ween off nicotine (they have levels that graduate down to Zero mg of nicotine), and then perhaps the vaping will go by the wayside. If not, I'm only inhaling water vapor by that time.Thanks again for coming!

  14. Thanks, Jenny!I always appreciate the advice of people who've been there, done it, and bought the hair-pulling tee shirt. I know how difficult it is. I've quit with the patch (still have some) and cold turkey. Hated both. When I went cold turkey, I'd dream of smoking. One time I woke up thinking I was smoking in bed until I realized it was a dream. I felt my hand reach into my shirt pocket and pull out an imaginary cig from an imaginary pack. I think this will help out immensely! :o)

  15. I've never been a smoker but I am from that era where everyone at school smoked, I think we thought it was sexy, although the phlegm a couple of decades later might not be so hot. I can understand weakness, I've been unsuccessfully trying to quit sugar this year, so far I'm at the talking about it stage.Give it a good shot and don't focus on the failures of quitting, each of those many times you've quite, you've had a chance to cleanse your body of the toxins, so it's got to be a good thing.I like the idea of the robotic cigarette, I can see them being sucked on by the floating heads in Futurama.

  16. Swifty,Thank you for being honest about your struggles. It is tough to tell the world that you are not perfect and that you struggle with something. I am glad that you are taking steps to get healthy. We are probably the same age or close to it, I am 43. The one thing that I have learned the hard way is that I have an addictive personality. I have never smoked a cigarette but I do enjoy a nice cigar from time to time. But addictions are all the same to the person who is addicted. It is tough.My addictions nearly destroyed my marriage. I was addicted to pornography and to gambling. When I was finally caught, I had a decision to make. Change or lose the right to be married and the right to spend time with my daughter. That was almost 7 years ago now and I don’t crave porn anymore, which is a good thing. But I still have the urge to gamble. That was truly an addiction and it is so dangerous because of the money that can be spent so quickly. I intentionally do not put myself anywhere near a casino and do not hang out with my old friends that gamble. I had to quit cold turkey and I am glad that I did. It is not easy to talk about and that is why I admire you for bringing this up. My life is so much better now that I live addiction free. Well almost. I love to drink cokes. I drink way too many a day and that is something I have thought about cutting out. But dang they taste so good. Don’t be fooled, everybody has something.Good Luck!

  17. Rob, thanks for sharing such a deep and personal glimpse into your life. That took courage. I'm so glad things are working out for you and your family…it seems like the experience may have even pulled you closer.I personally hate to bet. I'm a cheapskate who pinches a penny so tight, Lincoln poops.

  18. Thank you for at least caring enough to do the research, which is more that I can say for myself. I've quit many times – twice for over a year. It's definitely not the physical addiction that's a problem. Mainly, I don't want to quit…which makes it an uphill struggle. Like you, I feel like an outcast amongst all the non-smokers. I even chain smoke when I'm writing, with most of the expensive little buggers burning up when I'm not looking.I'm going to look into this v2 so thank you!

  19. Laura, Check out the Vapegrl link. She's very informative and has done much more research than I. I've quit like that, too, and do get an enjoyment from smoking. Just hate the health problems associated with it. I'm hoping that vaping leads to quitting, but if not, I feel like vaping is much healthier.And let me tell you…I'm a pretty heavy smoker. Over a pack, and am/was getting dangerously close to two. I love to smoke when I write, and they end up burning out, too. Waste. The e cig doesn't go to waste.I ended up getting the Victory free starter kit package. Well, the Mega E starter kit ($31.90 + $8.00 s&h). Comes with TWO batteries (the white part of the cig) and fifteen (a month's supply) cartridges. Each cartridge = over two packs. Also, a carrying case, and USB, car, and wall chargers. $40/month as opposed to $40/week!GOOD LUCK!

  20. Wow that's a lot of research. Never smoked, but I know lots of friends who do and they tell me how hard it is to quit. Glad to know there's a less dangerous alternative now. :)Nutschellwww.thewritingnut.com

  21. "I never turn on the lamp, but grope my way to the kitchen, rounding the corner where the stove's hood light casts its 40-watt glow across the counter. I'm a mole."hahaha – me, too! I can so relate to this. The fam hates me because I'm always going around, turning off all the overhead lights.I quit smoking 15 years ago. I'm glad I did, but I don't dare pick up a smoke. One pack and I'd be at it again in a heartbeat.Hang in there. It can be done. 🙂

  22. 'Twas a lot of research. And I didn't even tap into anything but the superficial stuff. Yesterday, I went to a local "vape" shop to see what they offered. Very high end. Now I realize that the stuff I ordered online was rather low end. It's shipped, so too late to do anything.

  23. Yes, I've quit in the past, and that one cig "that wouldn't hurt" always did me in. Congrats on 15 years!Sometimes, in my true moleness fashion, I never even open my eyes!

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