January 24th, 2003

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Smoking - Good or Bad?

I have been smoking cigarettes for the last 368 days. Prior to that, my smoking resume begins at age 17 while a freshman at college and continued through 1987 when I became serious about bodybuilding. I was a hard-core non-smoker for many years until I picked it up again when I moved to NYC in 1993.

While in New York, I was surrounded by smokers. I could smoke in my office. I could smoke in my boss' office. I could smoke in the produce section of Food Emporium if I wanted to, for crying out loud. That was New York in 1993. It also was much more difficult to keep the work-out/diet regime going in that city. "Egg whites only, please." The greek diner waiters would always give me that head cock a dog gets when you say a familiar word. I learned how to say, "No yolk" in broken Greek. They would arrive on a plate swimming in grease.

When we moved back to LA, I contnued smoking out of depression and habit. Then I stopped. Then I started. Stopped again. Tail chasing at its best.

OK all you non-smokers out there, please stop waving your hand in front of your nose. This is just a discussion. I really, really like smoking cigarettes. I know this is lost on those who have never smoked and all I can say to you is "Lucky you!" If my way-back machine was working, I would never have started either.

I am at an impasse. I love smoking cigarettes but continuing the habit prevents me from going back to the gym. The two events are inextricably tied . My therapist (a smoker) suggests I go to back to the gym and smoking will naturally fall away from my life. Not a bad thought and worth a try.

To stop smoking also represents a personal triumph. For the last year, I have been aggressively unhealthy. Beyond smoking at a level of Fran Lebowitz, I have embraced a horrendous diet. I have lost 30 pounds going from a nicely husky 210 to a lanky 180. I don't want to be lanky. Lanky bad. But then I get tangled up into this emotional quicksand saying that I don't want to have a positive body image, I'm not interested in being attractive again, and I don't care about my health.

Finally, smoking is a habit. A determined little rabbit with sharp teeth that grabs your arm and won't let go. After kicking two major addictions, this has proven to be the most difficult. I have tried the patch, hypnosis and Zyban. Zyban is just a SSRi anti-depressant that has unwanted psychological effects so no Zyban. The patch has its own personal drawbacks. Hypnosis has worked in the past and it will probably be the road I take.

Anybody else have any other suggestions? I'm all smokey ears.
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"He" is writing this

I have a friend, with whom I mercifully spend very little time, who speaks in the third-person. Thankfully he uses a gender appropriate pronoun. But when we are talking, he will say, "Oh, I think he will have the tuna melt," or "Oh, he had a wonderful time last night at the movies with his new boyfriend."

Last night we were speaking on the phone.

"He had a really terrible day today at work." OK, I am following along so far.

"He said that he was lazy and should try harder if he wanted anything kind of promotion." Oops. I'm lost.

"Who said you were lazy?"

"He did!" he emphasized this as if I were a moron.

My mind wandered to how those who work with this guy deal with it. Do they only refer to him by his given name so they do not get confused? Do they try to see how convoluted the conversation will get as sport?

Is it clinical dissociative personality disorder or just an affectation? I vote the latter. Whatever it is, it makes my head swirl trying to do the math of what the fuck he is talking about.
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