I started smoking cigarettes consistently when I was 16. I smoked regularly until I was 24, with the only times of abstinence being while I was incarcerated. Even then, I’d write a couple poems for some soups or chips and hustle myself up some tobacco to roll in bible paper and smoke. I had no belief in God back then, so burning through Deuteronomy didn’t phase me.
Some of the tobacco in the county jail was referred to as “pig spit”, dried up chewing tobacco that guards had spit on the floor. Trustees would collect it, dry it out and sell a dime sized clump for $2 or $3.
When I was in treatment a couple of years ago I decided to quit smoking. I used to wash and clean people’s shoes for money, and I would buy a giant bag of Red River tobacco for $22. I decided to quit mainly because I had began exercising regularly and I was noticing the effect cigarettes were having on my capacity to breathe while running. It was much harder than I expected, and I went back to those Red River rollies many times before I finally kicked the habit. I chewed tobacco and nicotine gum for a couple of days to fight the craving, but I finally was completely nicotine free.
A drug addict is drawn to sugar, carbohydrates, sex, caffeine and nicotine more than the average person because of the release of serotonin and dopamine those chemicals and sex create. Drugs like Heroin and Meth release an immeasurable overload of serotonin and dopamine, take that away and we are drawn to anything else that gives us a small taste again. However, I won’t end up living under a bridge or back in jail because I drink lattes and chew tobacco. Go to an AA meeting, you’ll see what I’m talking about.
My period of nicotine abstinence ended in 2015-2016 after I was given a newly popular nicotine vape. It produced the same effect as a cigarette, except it tasted like strawberry lemonade and didn’t leave me with the stale tobacco smell. I could also take puffs off of it in quick intervals as opposed to the ritual of the Marlboro red. I continued with the vaping up until 2 days ago when I made the decision again to kick the habit. After almost 3 consecutive years of vaping it has been much harder to get off the junk than I anticipated. I made it through Day 1 and 2 with some nicotine lozenges but they were so chalky and unenjoyable that I decided to by some skoal snus. Not exactly chew, a lot milder and I have made it through with a couple of those today.
I have been doing more things lately to express myself creatively than I have ever done in my life. When I was younger and throughout early adulthood I always had visions or ideas that I wanted to turn into action but I never had the ability to do so. A lot of those ideas and “plans” came under long sleepless nights of amphetamine use and scattered conversations with odd people, and I eventually gave up hope on ever doing anything with my dreams. My dream was never to host a radio show or have a website to write about whatever I wanted, or to counsel addicts/alcoholics on the road to recovery. I always thought I would be the next up and coming white rapper(so delusional) or some dude that knew somebody that made it big, and I could be along for the ride. It’s crazy how it all worked out.
Life changed over the last couple years, I got sober and began learning how to be a productive and responsible member of society. Those dreams and desires to be creative and share something cool with the world still ran inside of me, but now I could actually accomplish things and turn thoughts into actions. This landed me with some realistic ventures where I could do just that. I really felt this today as I was making the playlist for this week’s radio show and talking with some friends about upcoming interviews. I feel it now as I am writing this, in my room surrounded by objects and pictures that all tell a little bit of my story and the things that drive my inspiration.
Walls with images of Barry Sanders, Lebron James, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Rocky Balboa, The Clash, Banksy, The Sound and Fury Fest and a photo of my son next to a childhood photo of me where the similarities are strikingly apparent. A seashell with a little bit of my mom’s ashes hanging above my bed, inter-tangled with a couple of crosses and a picture of Jesus Christ. Star Wars, and too many Dodger bobble heads and memorabilia to list. My bed, one of the first “adult” purchases I made in recovery, blanketed with the most comfortable comforter I got out of the rescue mission’s donation room almost 4 years ago. Coffee and top ramen, popcorn and peanut butter. My beta fish Cosmo, tons of textbooks, fiction and nonfiction books. Vans, more Vans and dickies and more dickies. Sweatshirts and jackets, tee shirts and work clothes. My gary fisher mountain bike given to me by a man that helped save my life.
I could write a book about everything attached to what is just here in this room, only a glimpse into the libraries of stories and memories I have inside of me. The journey I have been on that has led me to this moment, Saturday night in my room…