Tag Archives: smoking

Uncomfortably numb

VINCE

Sorry for the delay in posting this. I planned on writing it after my meeting last night and, well, I failed. It was a great meeting. Only the second I have been able to attend since my release because of scheduling difficulties and a complete inability to communicate with my I.S.R. agents. We are supposed to call a voicemail number anytime we deviate even slightly from our schedule that we submit every week. I should back up and say that every morning before 10 AM I have to call the voicemail with my schedule for the day, which I basically just read off of the written schedule I have already submitted. Sound redundant yet? Anywho, for the first week, I had the times for all of my meetings incorrect, and I had not left myself nearly enough time for transportation so I called every day I had a meeting to ask permission to alter and nobody ever called me back. EVER! So I stayed at home which is the protocol for when there’s any confusion.  We do not have a number that we can call to communicate with a person. I have spoken with many of my fellow ex-offenders and they say they are experiencing the same frustrations. But hey, what a luxury to not be behind bars, right?

St. Paul is what I consider to be my hometown. I haven’t lived here in a decade, but there are still some familiarities about it. In the nearly two weeks since my release from C.I.P., I have progressed from complete confusion and overload, to confusion and overload. I’ve gone out grocery shopping a few times and always I have trouble. Here are some examples of what makes me want to run….. Did you know that at Aldi (kind of like a grocery store) they don’t have bags to put your groceries in? True story. So after I take a quick tour around the store looking for anything at all in a size larger than individual, and canned fake duck meat, per special request from mom, I realize I need to go somewhere I can stretch out my very limited funds. There were only two people in line until I decided I wanted to check out what I had, then everybody seemed to sense that I was on a tight two-hour leave from house arrest and they all fell into line before me. Move forward ten minutes– So the clerk asks me if I want to buy bags and I just stare, as if I don’t understand the question, because I don’t. So she asks me again and I say no and she just puts my stuff back in the cart. Fortunately for me, I had been sent along my way with a number of tasks to complete along with all my shopping for the week so I had a bag of bags that I think I was supposed to bring to a store, or maybe throw in a river. I don’t know. And then I went to Cub Foods where everything went much smoother.

I think the term anxiety would suffice. I’ve never been diagnosed but it seems like that’s what I’m dealing with. Wherever I am, I want to leave. I blame others for being the cause but it is probably me. For six months we were not allowed to speak or even look at people without permission, we were told what to do, never having to ask questions. Now out here I am left to my own devices. I don’t know how to talk to people. I can’t sit still. I bummed a cigarette from somebody after the meeting last night just so I could talk to them. Then I left and drove straight home with 45 minutes of free time left, and I don’t get any free time. What do people do? O.K. I give up. Mother is hammering…. next time. Bye.

 

 

 

Dying for a Smoke

ANNE

I’ve written about how I’m so lucky / grateful to not be an addict. However, quitting smoking was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, so I guess that makes me … an addict? Is having a Swisher Sweet cigar once a month a slippery slope? This is something I started in the last year or so.  I don’t inhale. But I must get enough nicotine to give me that instant stress reduction effect. I go down to the river with a beer or a flask of tea and smoke one little cigar and watch the water go by. Is that really so bad? Can’t I just enjoy one vice, once in a while?

I tried everything to quit. Setting a quit date. Cutting down. Smoking myself sick so I’d never want one again–until the next day. The patch, the pills (which caused frightening hallucinations), chewing on cinnamon sticks. Willpower. Phone counseling through my insurance plan. Not smoking til after I’d worked out for two hours. Never smoking in public. Never smoking until after work. Meditation.

I quit over and over. I’d quite for six months then cave in. Once I quit for FOUR YEARS! And then I started again after Dr. Wonderful broke our engagement. I was so sick the next day, after smoking one cigarette, that all I could do way lie on the couch and moan. But I started and kept on smoking for another 10 years.

In the end it was a silly thing that got me to quit. I read somewhere that the average age of women who get lung cancer is 42. So I’d had that in my mind for years—that I had to quit by the time I was 42. And I did. But as with the depression that I battled for decades, I think it was all the things combined, plus this final silly thought, that made it stick. That was 14 years ago.

Meditation helped, too. After all, it involves inhaling and exhaling, just like smoking. I still found myself tearing off the nicotine patch so I could have “just one” cigarette, then slapping the patch back on and yelling to myself out loud, “No—NO!!”

I know I can never pick up a cigarette again, not even to have one drag. I know this I went to Jamaica with a friend 15 years ago. She had quit smoking years earlier. But I was smoking, and she picked up one of mine, just to have a few drags—we were on vacation, after all! She smoked all week and has been smoking ever since. My sister smokes. Yes, the one with cancer. Yes, she knows that smoking can be a contributing factor to colon cancer. She tries and tries to quit. Now there are e-cigs, and she says they’re ok up to a point and then she Just Has to Have a Real Cigarette. I don’t blame her. Like I wrote above, they’re an instant stress reliever. Until you think about lung cancer and heart attacks; that’ll raise your stress level.

There has been no smoking allowed in Minnesota prisons for over 20 years. This is good; Vince’s lungs will get a chance to regenerate. But will he light up again the minute he’s out? He didn’t fight to quit, like I did; he was forced. And he wonders why he was so moody the first few weeks he was inside!