no smoking

November 1st

It might be a holiday, but it’s not nearly the same as May 1st. It has always meant the cemetery, the chestnuts, the candles, the ikebanas, the gathering, without the scary and fun Hallo-Wien undertones – I’m a child of socialism and proud of it.

So today my family visited the graves of my grandparents and other relatives once again, like I used to do along with them every year. Sometimes there was snow, heavy rain, sleet, cold, or it was a lovely autumn day. This morning they were even greeted by a little earthquake (well, over 4 on one of the scales) with the epicentre not far from the only Slovenian nuclear power plant. That was practically built on a tectonic break. Fragile indeed.

The fact that the earthquake was almost exactly where migrants have been entering Slovenia for a while now will go without mentioning. But here is how I have been feeling all this time, regardless of the fact that I am removed already:

 By Arend Van Dam

What I did today was go around with the bike and bestia and gather some photo flora for a virtual ikebana, in memory of all who once were warriors but are not here any more.

And also for me a little. Today marks eight years since I stopped smoking. All of you who are still smoking: today I’ll make an exception and let you read what I think about you. 🙂 (Which is to say: STOPPPPPPPPPPPPPP!!! No need to thank me. You’ll thank yourself later.)

Happy November. As months go, it’s not that bad.

Photo: MM

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Still smoking – and liking it? Do not read this

“Beware of people who quit smoking. They are the ones who will get rid of anything if it turns out that it is bad for them.”

Duško Radović

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In 2007 when I quit

I have not been smoking for 6 years and a half. I’ve heard somewhere that human body needs 7 years to get rid of all the old cells and build new ones (Subject to scientific derision I). It seems that I’ll soon be done with that.

My parents smoked. One grandfather, one grandmother, both uncles, all my ex’s smoked… Some have stopped, some are dead, my mom and one uncle still do. My love has recently switched to hand-rolled cigarettes to cut down the quantity. Electronic cigarette did not prove successful, twice.

I quit smoking on the Day of the Dead, November 1st 2007, after 20 years and 2 packs a day, minimum.

What enabled my quitting was the legislation that came into force in Slovenia on July 1st 2007, prohibiting smoking in all indoor public spaces.

I spent my last evening smoking having a dinner and quite a lot of wine with a friend, and we had to sit outside in cold winter air to be able to smoke, and I could hear the smokers coughing all around us, three beggars asked me for change, one tried to sell me a magazine, and then a mom came by with an offspring and pointed: “See, child, these here are smokers.”

When I was returning home on my bicycle, I had trouble riding uphill, my lungs were protesting. I got a little scared in my not very sober state. I kept clutching at my chest. Ugly thoughts were going through my mind… The state is killing off smokers… When I’m at my favourite concert venue, in the first row, I’ll HAVE TO LEAVE THAT SPACE TO GO OUT AND HAVE A SMOKE! When I’m working at my computer, I cannot write one sentence without having a puff, and it’s escalating. And now I can’t even ride my bike uphill, because it hurts.

If you think about it, tobacco belongs to the group of plants including tomatoes, potatoes, zucchini, that were clearly meant as merely decorative plants (I mean, who’d be using tomatoes for cooking and make all food taste exactly the same, sickly, sweetly red… right? Or potatoes… clearly a side-dish from hell, if you ask Montignac). When native settlers passed them on to the occupiers, they – chuckling on the inside – forgot to mention their poisonous effects, as a payback (Subject to scientific derision II).

As for money – I never established how much I was spending for cigarettes but they were getting more and more expensive by the month. I heard from two friends, a married couple, how they quit: they visited a mass hypnotist in neighbouring Croatia, paid him 300 EUR each and actually stopped smoking after that. Ha, I bet they did. They would be too ashamed to admit to all their friends that they’d paid so much money in vain. So I figured I could pay 300 EUR to myself… if I was one of those who get high on cash.

On the other hand… my grandma, father and uncle gained 20 kg each after they stopped. This thought was the main obstacle whenever I considered quitting. I really was heavy enough as it was. I think my skeleton, boobs and brain alone weigh more than an average worldwide human being.

I quit once before, about 15 years ago, after returning from my 2-week trip to California, my only time in the USA. I guess I was affected by concerned looks and questions of the Is there something wrong with your family that makes you smoke? variety. I didn’t smoke cigarettes for a year after that. However, I went back to smoking easily on my visit to Rumania. Strange what countries can do to you.

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A well-selected sad smoking photo. 😀

But as I was puffing on that bike towards home, something snapped inside me. I will quit. I will smoke one cigarette every day just so my body gets enough of the substances it is used to so that it doesn’t start to bloat right away. (This was one of the silliest things I could order myself and this one cigarette proved absolutely disgusting in the course of three days which was how long I obeyed this order.)

I will drink coffee without having a smoke with it.

When I finish a meal, I will not think of how nicely a smoke would do right now.

When I sit behind my computer and think, I will not reach for that cigarette in the ashtray to suck on it and pretend I think better this way.

There will be no more need to take care of having cigarettes and lighter with me at all times.

My fingers will stop being yellow. My teeth, skin, breathing, stamina, hair, lungs, heart, brain will improve. Whenever I pass somebody, not to mention talk to, hug or kiss, they will not smell the smoke on me first thing.

My apartment will smell nicely again. Not everything will get so bloody dirty so soon. (I forgot for a moment that I had a live-in boyfriend who was so proud of his smoking in every room of the house that I had zero chance of changing that. So I had to change him – NOT for that reason, obviously.)

I will not be a slave to cigarettes.

I will admit to myself that I’m a non-smoker.

And I did it.

No pills, therapy, patches, electronic devices, mantras, chewing gum (with much more nicotine that you could ever absorb smoking).

And it was so easy. The hardest part was those three cigarettes that I smoked forcibly lest I put on too much weight. (Guess what? That part still happened. The weight came. Then I got into exercise and eating regime. And the weight went. And I stopped with the regime. And the weight came again. But that’s a whole new subject for another time.)

I have not smoked a single cigarette since. I consider this my biggest victory in life (closely followed by moving my ass all the way over here and getting my driving licence in one try… What? I’ve been pretty spoilt by life…).

Actually, the hardest part is watching my friends and family who still smoke.

Watching my love who, like my mom, doesn’t wish to become a non-smoker. Who is convinced that he gets something invaluable from puffing on a tobacco roll, enriched with a few toxic substances. I mean, really?

What exactly must happen so that you stop?

When I woke up the morning after my decision to quit, I was happy. Relieved. I hopped on my bike to have a victorious ride to a friend’s place… and it was then that I noticed a flat tire.

It’s hard to ride uphill with a flat tire.

As it was, my decision was made. Sometimes our decisions are based on weirdest chance. Or is it chance?

What would you say, smokers of the world, how big a coincidence it was that you’ve just read this article?

(Oh, oh, guys, I’ve saved a little something for last… i’ve been told that once you stop smoking, men’s virility dramatically increases!) (Subject to scientific derision III).

≈ Manja Maksimovič ≈