It starts when we’re children, the desire to be older than we are. We “lie up” for the first two decades. We tack on a year or two depending on the situation, whether it’s to impress someone we’re talking to or to reap the benefits awarded to an older person. I used to lie about being older a lot. Somewhere though, and I don’t remember when exactly, I caught on. “I see where this is going,” I told myself.

You don’t get any of those days back. Not the ones that actually pass anyway. I’ve written a thousand things in the past explaining why I have ended up doing what I do for a living. The underlying theme to it all is that ultimately I cannot wrap my mind around the concept of waking up at the same time every morning and driving to some office to play some other person’s silly little games in exchange for a set sum of money.

I want to remain Pan.

I am content to continue to trick the world into paying me to do what I do now, which is basically just to travel and think. In my head I’m still a seven year old kid laying on the living room floor dreaming of dinosaurs and booby traps and foods covered in ketchup. I don’t want to grow up. I won’t. They can’t make me. They can make me pay taxes and tickets and they can hold me accountable legally for a bunch of ridiculous laws and rules, but they can’t take my days from me. I keep telling myself that anyway.

I may have found a way to keep the vultures at bay mentally, but physically… physically they are beating their wings at the walls and doors like the end of a Hitchcock movie. I wouldn’t say that I’ve been neglectful of my body, but I also have not done the greatest job of self-preservation. If the body is a temple mine is one of those that the Incas abandoned centuries ago.

Fifteen years ago I was in amazing shape. I was young. I had never touched a cigarette. I was running a sub five minute mile. When I think of the last fifteen years however, I am surprised any part of me is still mobile. A decade and a half passed where I ate fast food literally three times a day. That rhythm was only broken if someone I knew cooked. It certainly wasn’t going to be me. I was been anything but inactive over that particular stretch, but that was my competitive streak and not an attempt at actually exercising.

Even after all of that abuse, I managed to squeak out an eight minute mile a year ago, ending with me throwing up and almost drowning in fountain in Dallas while my “friends” Titus and Rachel laughed at my convulsions… but I was really proud of that eight minutes. **

And then I quit smoking. My body started making decisions for me. My body decided that if I was going to deprive it of one vice then it was going to force me to fix all the rest. And now we’re mad at each other.

We had an agreement, I thought. It would keep my metabolism an ungodly high rate and I would continue to feed it delicious What-a-Chicken sandwiches with cheese. That was the contract. You fix whatever I do to you and I’ll make sure it’s worth it. Well, one of us reneged on our end of the deal. I took the cigarettes away and it slowed down my metabolism. In return I had to cut out the relentless pursuit of double cheeseburgers. When those went my body decided it would jab at me with hunger pangs. I met those with attempts at running to distract myself and that was met with knee pain. My body is resistant to anything healthy. It fights it like a virus. We’ve battled every day for over a year now.

I still won’t eat vegetables but I am over the fast food part.

I realize it may appear a little whiny to be upset over what has never been more than a ten pound swing in my weight, but it is principle. Other people deal with these things, not me. The people with regular jobs and kids and mortgages. Not me. I have to find a way to justify growing up in this one regard. I have to convince myself that I have to make these adjustments now in order to better run my little Neverland.

That will all sort itself out though. I’m going to take my motorcycle out and go play in the sun. I’ve wasted enough of my day already.

-S

** The rest of that story can be read here:
http://www.sladeham.com/rant_archive.php?act=more&ID=172#172

This is my record of quitting smoking with the cessation drug Chantix.

Note 1: Always consult your doctor about drug dosages.

Note 2: This is not the diary of a pack-a-day puffer. I cannot attest to the stuff’s efficacy with hardcore smokers.

But I can attest to a hardcore and irrational love for smoking.

Especially with wine.

Or vodka tonics.

Or Baileys.

Or anything alcoholic, let’s be honest.

I love smoking on my balcony before bed staring at the moon.

I love smoking on foreign beaches.

I love smoking on special occasions.

Stressful occasions.

Occasions such as Saturday.

I’d never take a smoke break at work – that’s gross – but happy hour on a Wednesday? Pass the lighter.

This year I turned 30, which is simply too old to be smoking.

How does Chantix work? you may be wondering.

Varenicline, the mellifluous chemical in Chantix, sneaks up and latches on the nicotinic receptors in your brain.

Normally when you smoke nicotine attaches to those nicotinic receptors, sending a message to your brain to release dopamine.

But when Varenicline’s hanging out it prevents nicotine from binding itself to the same pleasure receptors, meaning you can’t derive pleasure from nicotine.

Essentially, Chantix cock blocks your Marlboro Lights.

QUIT DAYS 1-7

Because it takes a week to build up in the body, popping half a milligram twice daily of Chantix has no discernible effect. Continue to smoke when the mood strikes.

USEFUL READER TIP – In Texas at least, the cheapest place to fill your Chantix script is the pharmacy at Sam’s Club. Membership not required.

QUIT DAY 8

One milligram twice daily (double the dosage) doesn’t fuck around.

Listlessness.

Nausea.

I keep attempting to smoke but my beloveds smell and taste like industrial polymer, like the poison they are.

The last thing I love is no longer lovable.

Relief/grief. It’s a weird combo.

QUIT DAY 9

Cranky.

Foggy.

Forming a complete thought is

Secondhand smoke makes me heave.

I nearly pass out in my hot yoga class. Which may be the Chantix or the 105 degree heat. Hard to say. I manage to stagger from the room despite the teacher’s dirty look. You are not supposed to leave the room in hot yoga. It’s very bad form.

I meekly apologize to the teacher after class, after twenty panicky minutes sitting in the stinky locker room trying not to die.


QUIT DAY 10

Fuck that guy in grade 10 who stole his mother’s Du Mauriers and brought them to school.

Fuck RJR.

Fuck me.

Fuck.

The rest of the side effects have arrived at that side effect frat party going on my body. Shortness of
breath/dizziness/headaches/irritability/nightmares/and because I write anonymously I will admit/ diarrhea.

Like PMS and food poisoning together.

QUIT DAYS 11-25

Insomnia.

Mild depression.

Chantix has locked into my nicotinic receptors like Z tetrads into T tetrads. The only urge is hand to mouth. Attempted smoking tastes repulsive.

When I’m lucky enough to actually be asleep I have vivid, acid trip nightmares the online ex-smoker community refers to as Chantix Dreams. Usually involving graphic violence and/or rough sex acts.

Pfizer unleashes a barrage of “GetQuit” email encouragements written by idiots who clearly never suffered from a nicotine addiction.

Example email encouragement: You’ve been Quit for 3 weeks. Reward yourself with a latte!

Idiots. Latte is standard.

I deserve porcelain veneers.

Or Lasik eye surgery. Some major health-related reward.


QUIT DAY 26

The nightmares are euphemistically noted on the warning papers stapled to the paper bag the pharmacy gives you like this: Changes in dreaming are possible.

QUIT DAY 37

5:27AM.

I’m up. UP.

The doctor’s office opens in three more hours. Christ.

I think about my life.

Overlooking a few things, my life is pleasant.

I think about my clothes. Mental wardrobe inventory.

I think about being awake and bored.

I get up, get ready, get going.

Eight on the dot I call Dr. Williams and rattle off the list of side effects.

Just go ahead and stop taking the medication, he says.

Cold turkey? I ask incredulously. At this point I’ve been reading the online Chantix forums and I know the cold turkey thing is not good (which I relay this to Dr. Williams, I think a little testily).

Back to half a milligram then, he suggests (I think a little impatiently). The side effects tend to show up at the higher dosage. We hang up.

Where the fuck did Dr. Williams go to medical school? I wonder to myself for the first time in the five years I’ve been going to him.

Irritated, I stomp to the kitchen and cut every pill in two. Little blue bits go flying behind the stove and fridge under the force of the knife.

QUIT DAY 54

I’ve got this shit on lock.

0.5mg in the mornings only, on a full stomach only.

Pound water all day.

Some type of exhausting cardio after work.

Tylenol PM Rapid Release Gels before bed.

Resignation.


QUIT DAY 75

I don’t smoke any more.

Smoking is over for me.

I am a non-smoker.

I’m still taking half a milligram of Chantix. I’m still having nightmares that would make Wes Craven piss himself. I’m still taking the odd puff at the bar when my decision-making skills are impaired by alcohol and it still tastes like nail polish remover with gasoline. When I even go to bars. Drinking without smoking = sex without orgasm.

In summary, Chantix at the lower dosage doesn’t limit normal life functioning and it makes cigarettes suck.

Depression and sleeplessness seem like a small price to pay for breaking an addiction.