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I’m Not a Smoker

I’m not a smoker.

I was a smoker. I smoked on and off from 14 til about a year ago. I remember going to the pool in my neighborhood where my friend and I would secretly meet up with boys who my mother would never approve of. One was 18 and had just graduated. My friend and I were 14.

I remember sitting at the top of the high grassy hill at our neighborhood pool in Austin. Behind all the white, suburban moms sunbathing on the strappy, white, lounge chairs while their children splashed in the pool before them.

The 18 year old and his two younger friends (both of whom were still much older than us) were smoking. They offered us one. My friend, wanting to appear lady-like and demure refused. I accepted only a drag from one of the friends.

I’d had cigarettes before. I was never really a fan. Smoking an entire one would always leave me nauseous, reeking of smoke, and with a sour taste in my mouth. The only thing I enjoyed about them was the high. I always got a nicotine high from cigarettes, and as I got older and couldn’t always get my hands on weed, a nicotine high was the next best thing.

I continued to smoke occasionally throughout high school when I couldn’t afford weed. Cigarettes were always easy to come by, and my friends seemed to be lousing with them. Once I got to college, I smoked only socially when I drank. The cool feeling of the smoke amidst the hot, woozy drunkeness always seemed to complement each other. It wasn’t until I began using adderall that my habit intensified.

The thing about Adderall is that it’ll help you focus on whatever you’re doing. So if you’re studying, it’ll keep you engrossed in your books. If you’re on Facebook, it’ll keep you absorbed in the lives of your high school friends who may have had kids a bit too early. If you decide to stop and take a smoke break, it’ll keep you outside for hours chain-smoking like your life depends on it.

Mind you, I rarely used Adderall as an aid to study (four times tops). However the subsequent days and weeks of fanatic puffing were a long-lasting effect. When I began buying packs more than once a month, I would come to my senses and realize that I needed to cool it. I was never addicted. At least, I would never admit it to myself. If anything, I just needed to slow down for a bit. And I would. Until the next time I had an all-nighter, and the cycle would start up again. You see, even if I hadn’t taken Adderall, the Proust Effect would kick in and I’d remember how much I was able to study when I had smoked. So I’d go outside with the intention of just smoking half of one, and I’d end up smoking the entire thing. “Crap” I’d think, and head back in to keep studying only to find myself more jittery than before and convince myself another cigarette would help.

After I graduated, I moved home and went back to smoking socially. It was easy to do. Like I said, I was never addicted. My boyfriend was a smoker and had been since he was 16. When he would come to visit, we would usually end up sharing a cigarette outside my mom’s house after a night of drinking. Once she saw us and was so shocked “Lauren, you smoke?!” to which I cooly replied “Only socially.”

And that’s how it went. Til this day, I still only smoke socially, and now it’s even less than before. I will only take a drag off of my boyfriend’s cigarette occasionally when we go out. In fact, I haven’t had a full cigarette in over a year.

Until Today.

Today was the first day I have smoked an entire cigarette in about a year. I slowly removed a single cigarette from the pack my boyfriend keeps in our kitchen drawer. I cautiously stepped outside onto our patio, wary of any passers-by who might see me and label me a smoker, because I’m not. But I was. And I did. I smoked that cigarette whole.

I sat outside in the warm, tepid air and let the cool feeling of the cigarette calm me. I felt relaxed, calm, and free. The sun peaked out behind the overcast clouds and shined upon me as I sucked it down. I smoked it all the way to its butt and after it was done, I ashed it on a pile of wet paper towels. I sat there breathing and basking in the humid air. Feeling (as ashamed as I am to say this) really good.

But I am not a smoker.

I view my time as a smoker as dark splotches on my otherwise sunny life. However, today I needed a cigarette, and it delivered.

Recently, I’ve begun working at a start-up company. One of the founders of said company is, as most start-up founders are, very young. She’s 22 to be exact. Now, myself at 24, you might be wondering where I get off griping about how young a person is. And that’s a very good point. The only rebuttal I have is that I do not act it.

I’ve always heard that I am an old soul, and I truly believe it. I left my partying days behind me at 21 when I graduated. Now, a crazy night is when we stay up past midnight binge watchingHouse of Lies  or It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. I know how to have a drink after dinner and them go to bed.
I have worked in a multitude of organizations and I understand how organizational communication works. I’ve also taught Professional Communication and pride myself in my abilities to communicate at a professional level. I create task-lists and timelines for when things should get done and I get said things done on time without excuses. I do not whine, throw temper tantrums, or believe that things must go my way. I am able to make compromises, communicate, and work on a team. You know, basic adult stuff. My coworker, however, does not encompass the same level of maturity.

Recently, a manager was hired on after quite a few of our vendors complained about the immature nature of my coworker. The manager was hired to oversee all parts of the organization, and my coworker has been having a hard time understanding this. It’s almost sad to watch her grasp at the last remaining strands of power that she once had only to watch them fall through her fingertips and into the palm of our manager.

Now she just pouts, and whines, and tries to take control over any last bits she can. This jut happens to include my job. Now I’m in charge of social media, and I’m directly under the manager. However she believes herself to be the liaison between the manager and me. It’s so sad.

On Saturday she threw a temper tantrum, yelled at our manager and stormed to her car slamming the door behind her. On Monday, she thought a Happy Monday post was directed at her. On Tuesday she deleted my post without consulting me or our manager.

I can’t make this level of high school nonsense up.

If I were the manager, I would’ve fired her ass by now. But that’s not what this post is about. This post isn’t about my coworker, or my job, or the fact that I get paid about $9/hr to do something that companies start at 40K+. I’m here to talk about my disgusting and formerly kicked habit.

I bet you’re wondering, what could have driven me back down this dark path that I fought so hard to detour from. After her “executive” decision to delete my post, I’d had enough.
Now I was not surprised about it, nor did it hurt my feelings. I’m not paid enough for her behavior to hurt my feelings. It did however cause me to stand up and approach the kitchen drawer laden with my boyfriend’s cigarette stash.

But I’m not a smoker.

At least, I don’t want to be. And I know that this job–these coworkers are influencing my ability to control myself around cigarettes. And I can’t have that. I won’t have that.

Because I am not a smoker.

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