Rest In Peace, Plutarch

I love all the people slinging shit around Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death. Yes, he was a junkie! Yes, he had small children that needed him. But I all these people judging him like, “He should have just stayed clean…” (really?) are just showing how ignorant they are about the struggle of addiction.
I read in an article recently that, when asked how bad his problem was, he claimed he knew he would die soon if he couldn’t get clean. He tried to get clean, going to AA and rehab more than once. He actually remained cleaned for quite a while, a stretch of (I think) around 20 years. And he clearly was no longer using for the “fun of it.” He was suffering with his addiction, and his story, right up to his “death prediction,” reminds me once again of Layne Staley– another brilliant artist who suffered and lost his battle with addiction.
So I wish people would stop being so damn high and mighty, especially about things I’m betting most of them have never battled themselves. At the very least, if they have nothing “nice” to say, they should just refrain from commenting at all.
The air must be really nice up on that high horse. ~smh

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Philip Seymour Hoffman as Plutarch Heavensbee

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What the F*ck Do You Think You’re Doing???

That’s what I want to say.  Actually, I wanted to say it the day before yesterday, the first time I saw my neighbor, Marie*, sitting outside and smoking a cigarette– not an e-gic- an honest to God, real, smoking, cigarette– only a couple weeks after she just had a triple bypass

It was an emergency surgery.  She’d been feeling bad for a while now and was already on a regimen of pills, including three different delivery methods for Nitroglycerin!  And she smoked like a chimney, in her apartment, all the time.  When she went to the doctor’s for a stress test, she was immediately sent to the hospital.  The docs told her if she had been any later going to the doctor’s, she’d probably be dead.  They also told her if she didn’t quit smoking, that within a year, she’d be dead.

Her medical emergency pushed me over the edge of my own smoking dilemma and I got an e-cig.  I haven’t had a real cigarette in three weeks.

Marie’s apartment was thoroughly cleaned and scrubbed down while she was in the hospital, in an attempt to erase the years of nicotine and tar from the walls and furnishings.  People have been in and out to take care of her dog, a blind a mostly blind and deaf old pug who doesn’t always make it outside to the bathroom anymore. “No Smoking” signs went up on her front door.  In fact, there has been a steady stream of friends and family members with her since the whole thing started.  There have been people helping her cook and bathe and keeping her company while she recovers.  I’ve been over there several times myself, offering food and whatever else I can do.

I was a bit perturbed to see she had acquired an e-cigarette herself, simply because I imagine any kind of stimulant (even without the tar and other chemicals) is probably not the best thing for her right now.  She still drinks coffee as well, but, hey, you can’t take everything away from her at once.

But I think I was also perturbed because in my heart, I think I knew this would happen.  She’s been waffling around, back and forth, toying with the idea of quitting smoking and taking better care of herself for a while now.  Eating better, exercising more.  And I’ve tried to help her.  I even helped her set up a My Fitness Pal account.  But she showed virtually no initiative or commitment to using it.  She’ll say she’s gonna try to quit and then as soon as she wants a cigarette, she finds one.  I doubt there is even any attempt at resisting the compulsion.

Bypass Surgeryphoto:fitchicago.com

Bypass Surgery
(photo: fitchicago.com)

Yep…she’s addicted.  And I can’t really blame her for that.  But I also can’t help feeling aggravated.  Aggravated at her lack of willpower…aggravated that having her chest cracked open is not enough to make her stop making excuses. I mean, when I saw her the other day, she said, almost guiltily, “I wanted a real cigarette, so I had one,” as she puffed away, the filter of the cheap cigarette withering away almost as fast as her life.  And I know this whole thing terrifies her.  She’s a nervous person anyway…   So why is she doing this to herself?  She didn’t even start smoking until she was an older adult, so it’s not like she’s been doing it since her teenage years.

For my part, I was surprised at how [relatively] easy the e-cig has made quitting for me.  Sure, it’s not a “real cigarette,” but I get a nic fix and I get the oral fixation and habit, which is a big part of my smoking addiction.  I’ve even found I don’t pick up the e-cig and use it at regular intervals like I would were I still smoking.  It’s almost random, yet it’s there for those trigger times, like after meals, should I need it.

But it’s not doing it for Marie.  Like I said, it isn’t the same as smoking, but with the right e-cig, it’s enough like smoking that, coupled with the dire consequences of not quitting, it should be enough to keep her abstaining.

But I guess the real point of this post for me is to sort out how I feel about this whole thing.  See, I care about Marie.  And I’m sure many of you can relate to this post.  I bet a lot of you gentle readers have relatives that may have been through similar scares and still– irritatingly– engage in their risky behavior.  Shit, my step-father has stents and he still smokes.  But he lives 800 miles away.  This is, like, right in my face…

In a way, I suppose how I feel is probably how my Mom felt after she had her heart surgery and my sister and I continued to smoke…   Even though that’s slightly different, as it did not actually happen to my sis or me.

And I’m not sure what, if anything, to do about it.  Part of me wants to be the honest– candid– person I like to think of myself as.  And another part of me tells myself that Marie is an adult and I should just be a supportive–and silent– friend.  I wish I could fool myself into thinking she’s just indulging in one or two smokes, here and there, like I used to.  But I know better.  She doesn’t have the self-control to keep it in check.  I wonder how long it will be before she is back to sitting in that tiny coffin of an apartment and smoking her lungs black.  Because she’s never even been able to keep the commitment to simply move her smoking habit outside, even for her beloved dog, who also suffers from a heart problem that causes him to cough painfully and hackingly, and will eventually kill him.

I worry about her.   Do I hound her mercilessly? (I’m sure that’s not the answer.) Do I say my piece and let it drop?  Do I say nothing?

Post Op Open Heart Surgery scar(Photo: myheartsisters.org)

Post Op Open Heart Surgery scar
(Photo: myheartsisters.org)

Help! I’m a Compulsive Multi-tasker!

My regular readers probably know by now that compulsions are no new thing for me.  I was diagnosed with OCD over 18 years ago.  That and my studies in psychology have led to a lot of introspection and self-analysis of my behaviors.   I sometimes wonder where my OCD ends and my real personality begins.  Or maybe I’ve dealt with it so long, in ways it’s shaped my personality.

This isn't me...but it may as well be...

This isn’t me…but it may as well be…

That said, I’m not sure if my propensity for multi-tasking is rooted in OCD, or a conditioned thing.  It’s probably both.  Or maybe it’s more closely related to an addiction-type disorder.In any event, lately I’m finding it all but impossible to do only one thing.  The two main culprits are the television and the internet.  I started watching back episodes of Grimm lately.  I’m really into the show…yet I tend to miss a lot of little things each episode because I am usually seated on the floor in front of the laptop, either bouncing back and forth between Facebook and this blog, or I’m playing Fishdom.  Fishdom, for crying out loud!  It’s actually burned into my brain!  My art has fallen by the wayside in the wake of other things, but when I draw, I often have something on the TV…like white noise.

I’m practically incapable of just sitting on the couch and watching TV now.  My blog is like my baby, so my compulsive stat checking and commenting is excusable.  What is not excusable is that my two year old finds it necessary to climb in my lap and sit in front of me to get my attention.  I’m not saying I ignore her, and all parents need and deserve a break sometimes.  She is by no means “neglected…”   But I do spend a lot of time on the computer during the day.  And maybe part of it is just that she’s accustomed to us showering her with attention or that she’s just being a normal two year old.  I dunno; this is the first time having one of my very own (a toddler, I mean.)  And even though I love playing with her and seeing her laugh and learn, it’s hard to have an extensive conversation with a two year old…especially when they barely talk…     I mean, she’s a chatterbox, but her conversational topics are few.

I find myself sneaking peeks at the computer screen even when I’m playing with her or doing other things.  Sometimes, I just have to shut the damn thing, so I leave it alone for a bit.

I’ve lived without cable TV for years.  I’m the point now where when I do watch TV, usually over other people’s houses, commercials drive me more crazy than ever, because I am so used to watching DVD box sets or downloaded shows with little to no commercials.  So I know I can live without it because I do.  Elementary, right, my dear Watson?

I’ve lived without internet before.  But these things are like many other habits, easy to form and hard to break.  When our internet connection was gone, I didn’t mind not having Facebook access so much as I hated not being able to access my blog regularly… yet I still find myself compelled to check Facebook often now that I have regular access to it once again.

One of my main concerns is that I’ve basically conditioned myself have a sort of attention deficit disorder.  I don’t mean I fear a clinical diagnosis of that, but more that I am annoyed by my need to be entertained so constantly that I need to do not just one thing, but multiple things.

All day long while doing these things to entertain myself, I also do dishes, laundry, and take care of my daughter.  I exercise and fix food.  This type of multi-tasking is necessary to run an efficient home.  The problem comes in when I can’t devote my full attention to any one task because I feel the need to do more than one at any given time.

Anyway, last night, for my daughter more than anyone, I decided that if I’m not actively writing and article or story, I’m going to try to limit my time on the computer.  I’ll get up and do my “morning check” of all my stats, comments, and notifications on both WordPress and Facebook.  But then I’m going to step away for a while.  My child deserves my full attention.  So does my husband, and even my art and writing.  Just not all at once.

To Smoke or Not to Smoke…or to Smoke?

Annnnnd I’m a smoker again. I can no longer deny it. I have bought several packs of cigarettes and have started to feel the old “what if I run out of cigarettes” anxiety- which is exactly what I DIDN’T want to happen again. And I want to quit again. I really need to quit again. Which is stronger? The desire and/ or compulsion to smoke or the guilt and cognitive dissonance I feel by smoking (not to mention the fact that my sinuses get worse and I feel like I’m “dragging” a lot of the time)? The guilt I feel when my daughter sees me smoke and my fear that she will smoke one day?
Yesterday I happened on a memorium for those public figures who died in 2012. After reading through those sixty-odd names and descriptions, something happened to me. Likely the same thing that always happens to me when I think too much about death (even the ones where the people lived to, like 95, and died naturally.) I get all nervous and anxious. I don’t handle death well. Not real death, not the concept of it or it’s inevitability, and especially not the whole “ceasing to exist” idea.
Bottom line is, I may get hit by a bus tomorrow, or die of an aneurysm, but I’d like to not hasten my demise with cigarettes (although I maintain that if they we’re bad for you I certainly would keep smoking.) And I want to set a good example for my kid.
So I decided to quit again.

“HOLY SHIT! These things are bad for you? Shit, I thought they were good for you! I thought they had Vitamin C in them and stuff!” ~ Denis Leary

Just as soon as this pack is done.

To Smoke or Not to Smoke

It’s a cold turkey! Get it? Huh? Huh?

Spring came back and kicked Summer out for a few more days, and as I stood outside in the cool air this morning, drinking my vanilla nut coffee and trying to smoke one of my husband’s nasty menthol cigarettes, an interesting thought occurred to me.

You see, I quit smoking a little over 2 years ago, when I got pregnant with my daughter. Continue reading