Day 2: The Origin of this Blog and Still Not Smoking

The Origin Story

My friend Bruce and I were sitting in a wine bar a few months ago while his wife was across from us talking with my then 6-month pregnant wife, Amy. Our conversation went as follows:

Bruce: I’ve got the perfect name for a blog you should write. It’ll be your personal account of the daily trials and joys of fatherhood.
Me:: What? (In my head: I will never ever ever write a blog. Blogs are for self-indulgent people with cats and/or participate in LARP)
Bruce:: Former. Boy. Tells. All.

As he paused at each word, his hand illustrated what it might look like on the marquee of a Hollywood premier. Or a Grand Opening sign in front of a mattress store.

Sadly, I am a sucker for glitzy presentations and all of my previous misgivings about writing a blog immediately left my head. All I could think was: MONETIZE. I was and am, after all, so very tired of not being a millionaire.

I panicked. I thought, ‘Someone much smarter than me has most definitely already snatched up this amazing domain name’. I ran home to check. Fortunately, I was correct in my lifelong theory that there is no one smarter than me . O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! I snatched up the name immediately (probably just seconds before a dozen hopeful daddy-bloggers were trying the same thing), and…

And there it sat for the next few months – me, every now and then, logging in with the usual temptation to indulge in whining about my terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, white, middle-class existential dilemmas.

I mostly posted pictures of my dog saying witty things, which, I notated for her (she has no fingers).

Smartest Dog in the World

Smartest Dog in the World

Then, even the title started to irk…hmmmm…that is a picture of my son, Avi.

Here’s Darla:

Smartest Dog in the World

Smartest Dog in the World

Anyway. Then, even the title started to irk me. It began to evoke images of some guy sitting down at his computer wearing hot pants and a sailor cap, writing his deepest confessions and fantasies.

Former. Boy. Tells. All.

So I here I sit, whining about my terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, white, middle-class existential dilemmas whilst wearing my hot pants and sailor cap. All the while… Not smoking. Day Two.


T-Minus Tomorrow: Why I Am Quitting and What I Am Afraid Of

How bittersweet these punctuations
of flame and gesture;
but the best were on those mornings
when I would have a little something going
in the typewriter,
the sun bright in the windows,
maybe some Berlioz on in the background.
I would go into the kitchen for coffee
and on the way back to the page,
curled in its roller,
I would light one up and feel
its dry rush mix with the dark taste of coffee.

~Billy Collins, The Last Cigarette [segment]

I just made myself a cup of coffee and it’s 4:30 AM. I have 3 cigarettes left, 2 Djarum Specials and 1 hand-rolled Drum. I will go to sleep after this blog goes live and when I awake, I will be a non-smoker.
I’ve been a non-smoker before. Just a couple of weeks ago I was a non-smoker for 5 days. The longest I ever quit for was about 3 months. I think it was for a girl (yuck). Oh, but this coffee is good. And methinks it will be triply good with one of my last smokes.
18 years now. It’s been 18 years. I have smoked for more than half of my life.
Here’s what I looked like when I first started smoking at 16:

Me, a smoker at 16

Here’s me now. I was still smoking when this picture was taken.

Me. 18 years later and still smoking.

Tomorrow, I will talk more in-depth about my smoking history. For now, let’s just say that I’m afraid of what tomorrow brings. I am not worried about withdrawal. I have gone through that many times before. I’m not worried about keeping myself busy.

What worries me most is that, over the last 18 years, I have attached smoking with my creativity. This is presently a HUGE problem for me. I have 2 novels that I’m loving and much much more in the works. When I think about writing, I think about smoking.

A few months back, I asked a good friend of mine why he hasn’t quit smoking yet. His answer was beautiful:

Everytime I smoke, I feel like I’m 16 again

But I’m a dad now. I’m not 16. I have a gorgeous wife who actually likes me. You’d think the decision would be easier. It’s still not.

That’s all I have to say about all that. If you read this blog you can keep up with my progress. If you smoke and write and can’t picture one without the other, I hope you get something out of this. I can’t find ANYTHING anywhere that talks about how to overcome your writer’s block while quitting smoking. Stephen King said in On Writing that it took him a month after he quit to start writing again.

I don’t have a month. My second packet is due in a few weeks.

I gotta go smoke my last smokes. I’m going to start with the clove. I’ll end with the Drum.

P.S. I promise you that this blog will not only be about smoking. I have many other ideas for it. I will try to update my music pretty regularly. Plus I gotta tidy the site up quite a bit.

P.P.S. If anybody reads this and wants to A) Give me suggestions or B) Cheer me on…great. There’s just one thing you have to do for me in exchange. Tell me one bad habit you have.

Till then,