In recognition of National Quitting Smoking week, two of Huffpost's young contributors, Miranda Frum and Daniel Alexandre Portoraro, have volunteered to quit smoking and keep a daily journal about it. Readers: Support them! And please share your own struggles about trying to kick an addiction, whether it was cigarettes or anything else. You can read the first entry here.
8:30 AM: I measure my time at the office by cigarette breaks. I have my first cigarette break of the day at around 10:30 AM. I have a lunchtime cigarette at about 1 or 1:30 PM. Then, I have an afternoon cigarette at about 2:30 or 3 PM. Depending upon how stressful my work day is, I have a couple more in between those set smoking hours. I love my smoke breaks. Partly because it's a chance to go outside, breath some fresh air, and stretch my legs which have been cooped up under a desk. These smoke breaks also clear my head. Usually when I am stumped for an answer to a question, or have come to a creative thinking block, I take a quick break. When I return, I have an idea or a solution. However, because I live in Toronto, there is only a limited time in which going outside for a cigarette is a pleasant and relaxing ordeal. The moment November hits, going outside suddenly begins to become quite unbearable.
But yet, still I will go outside. Just because going outside for a cigarette is an integral part of my work day. It's so embedded into my work day routine the idea of removing it from said routine suddenly becomes quite scary. Uh oh... my anxiety level is rising... normally, this would be the moment where I would go for a smoke. Today I will try to fight it.
10:15 AM: I need a cigarette. But I won't do it. If Odysseus can ignore the tempting screams of the Sirens, then I can ignore the pulsating migraine thumping against my skull.
10:34 AM: I have already failed. I went for a cigarette. I began to feel cranky and agitated. Now, post-cigarette, I feel guilty and smoke-filled. The benefit of smoking less frequently is that my cigarettes seem stronger. As I stood outside, in the freezing sleeting rain mind you, I noticed the pedestrians rushing by on the street occasionally throwing me, what I hoped were, sympathetic glances.
"Poor smoker. She should quit. It's freezing. And raining. Why the hell is she outside? That cigarette can't be pleasant..." Well, that's what I'm pretending they're thinking at least. DISCLAIMER: I don't actually have mind-reading powers.
The idea of not smoking again today begins to start stressing me out. I've already started eyeing my pens, and imagining what they will look like with all the caps serious teeth marks. I can't help but begin to start really empathizing with Labradors.
NOON: Every thought leads to smoking. The time has come for me to smoke my lunch cigarette. I must resist. Every email which arrives in my inbox is almost a nudge to go and smoke. Deal with this later! After you have a cigarette this will be so much easier to deal with! I must keep chanting, I think I can, I think I can. I remembered reading in Siddhartha of the monks' pure meditative power -- how they were able to resist common needs through meditation. I wonder how creeped out my co-workers would be if I started meditating in my office.
The pen cap chewing begins.
12:08: Just keep typing... just keep typing... just keep typing... and reminding yourself how cold it is outside.
1 PM: A friend congratulates me on my initiative to try and kick the habit. He offers some consoling advice: "We have been brainwashed to believe that we cannot live without them [cigarettes]. Remember, it's our individual choice when we light one. We just have to not make that choice." Sounds easy enough. After all, I'm no corporation-influenced goon! I make my OWN decisions!
And then he reminds me of the inevitable cravings and stomach cramps.
1:05 PM: Something that's starting to annoy me: instead of just not smoking, all I can think about is not smoking. BLEH.
2:04 PM: I caved. I caved! En route to buying a bagel to lunch, out of sheer habit I started smoking. I tossed my half smoked cigarette onto the sidewalk -- hoping that by smoking half of it, it technically wouldn't count as much as a full cigarette.
And honestly, trying not smoke at work (especially when one works in the media) feels near impossible.
2:55 PM: My concentration is down. I feel as if my work performance is not as great as it is when I smoke. I feel easily distracted, agitated, stressed out (all for no real reason). My focus is a shmorgasboard. Every buzz from my Blackberry and every eye catching thing at my desk is an annoying disturbance. Meep.
3:37 PM: Have decided to try Pavlovian experiment. Every time I think of smoking, I have to watch this National Geographic video of people eating live octopi. I am hoping I begin to associating smoking with swallowing writhing tentacles.
4 PM: GUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUH
Conclusion: I'm in for a rough night. Guess it's time to throw that pack of cigarettes in the toilet and never look back.
Follow Miranda Frum on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@mirandafrum