Am I Still Me? Smoke and Tongue Ring Free?

When everything seems to have changed, how do you know you’re still you?  This week i quit smoking, and this time i have done it for good and for ever.  I’m really happy about this choice and my new life but it’s still scary as fuck.  I read a great article recently (i can’t find it now, dang it) that talked about quitting smoking and the author had a lot of the same feelings i do.  Who will i be without smoking?  What will i do?  Smoking, as ridiculous as it sounds, has become a part of my personality.  I was a smoker.  Full time.  I smoked before going into restaurants or movies, upon exiting work and malls, before bed and first thing in the morning.  Walking, waiting, sitting, reading…..about the only time I was not smoking was when i was riding my bike, and even then, if a break happened out would come the smokes.  Well, a week in and i am doing A-OK.  I am still me, just less stinky and annoying, and i am getting used to the empty space not smoking has left.  It’s a good empty space, a healthy empty space 🙂  So that’s one thing, and here’s another.  After over 10 years of having a tongue piercing it came out today.  Just like with my labret (middle lower lip) ring the dentist thinks it’s causing gum recession.  Boo.  So now i am a smoke-less (free!), tongue (and lip ring) free, vegan who cannot tolerate wheat.  WTF.  If you were to describe this person to someone who last saw me a year and a half ago they would not know who the eff you were describing.  It’s great to grow and change and mature and thrive (obviously), but you also don’t want to lose you.  So far i think i am ok.  Tonite i had to go to the post office and afterward i found myself wandering the bookstore on Davie.  This is one of my most favorite things to do and something i have been doing since i was a teenager.  i can spend hours in even the smallest shop.  As i am on a challenge to go to the library instead of buying books i didn’t get anything new (so hard!!!) but i did pick up an old favorite.  I don’t know if i have ever owned my own copy but if i did i don’t now, and i really should.  Also i really liked the cover art. So the book loving, quirk loving, chick is still in here.  She just doesn’t smoke and her gums are safe. Sounds good.

if you have not read this you should.  and anything else by Kurt Vonnegut.

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mel
    Jul 28, 2010 @ 05:24:34

    I LOVE you 🙂 You are a better woman than I.

    Reply

    • Elan
      Jul 28, 2010 @ 16:20:46

      VanChick: I read _Slaughterhouse – Five_ again just last month myself!

      For me, that story is mainly about a guy who has learned to accept bad people and bad circumstances because, no matter how crappy his life is at the point he lives it — he knows that it’s going to change eventually (and even momentarily). But while Billy gets to live his life non-linearly, and so benefits from his unique ability to see past the seemingly unending horrors of war and the tragedies in his family life — the rest of us have to live our lives one moment to the next, and so we are denied Billy’s sense of peaceful acceptance until we’re looking *back* on our lives, when it’s already too late. I’m always so pissed off at myself for worrying so much about what might happen in my future, because when that future becomes my past I realize I’ve wasted the time worrying instead of just appreciating the thrill of feeling anticipation–of not-knowing–which I think becomes a rarer and rarer experience in our lives the older that we get.

      I watched _The Wedding Singer_ the other night, shortly followed by a Cover Girl commercial on TV, and thought about how much Drew Barrymore seems to have changed over the years. I figured that defining who you are by *loving* Drew as a celebrity now would NOT be the same thing as loving her 10 years ago. When I think back to and about my friends from 10 years ago, I probably would have described who they were by how they looked and what they liked. Now, however, I think I’d be more inclined to describe my old friends in terms of their their beliefs, what they have accomplished in their lives, and how much they have grown since I first knew them. Maybe it’s an identity development thing – kids first learn who they are by how they decorate themselves, and then only later by other, less tangible things, such as how they understand themselves and how they treat others. If that’s the case then THANK GOD –> I can quit worrying so much about how materialistic, shallow, and hypersexualized I find youth culture to be right now. Like Billy, I can accept it because they’ll grow out of it, but only because they first have to go *through* it (like all of us had to).

      As I enter into my 30s (okay, so I’m already there), I’m finding that the people I (still) like most are the people who remain willing to change – still able to think new thoughts, appreciate different ideas and cultures, consider new and healthier ways of living, imagine themselves in a world that is larger than just themselves. Maybe the quality and richness of a person’s identity is defined precisely *by* her ability to change, rather than the visual markers on the surface that remain the same.

      In contrast to the narrator of _Slaughterhouse – Five_, who admits in one of his many asides that there are virtually no characters or dramatic conflicts in Billy’s story, YOU are certainly still the (funny, beautiful, and slightly acerbic) main character of your own story, in which there’s always lots going on. I figure that, AT THE VERY LEAST, being a person who defines herself by the positive changes that she embraces in her life will force your friends (and readers) to keep coming back to hang out with you (or read your blog) just so that they can see what irony-laden comment you’ve made or nutty activity that you’re up to next!

      Reply

  2. Dad
    Jul 28, 2010 @ 09:15:43

    I am proud of you – it takes guts and strength – and if it was half good enough for Russel Crowe then it is certainly good enough for you. Keep up the good work!

    Reply

  3. Jenn
    Jul 28, 2010 @ 17:09:33

    I think you are super awesome. I know YOU won’t change -just your decor;) (which is fun anyway!)

    Reply

  4. vanchick
    Jul 29, 2010 @ 06:10:27

    Mel: no i’m not. just better looking. A HA HA HA HA! ;-P

    Dad: thanks…and wuh?

    Elan: wow! did you; re-read S5, look back on the notes you wrote in the margins of S5, or do you just have an amazing memory (much better than mine!)? i also really liked your mention of Drew B. I used to love that chick like crazy. now i am an adult and there is not much i idolize but even so….she has kind of sold out which makes me a bit upset. as i am changing so is she and i like who i am becoming more than who she is becoming. that is based purely on “Robyns Interpretation of Drew Barrymore”, not on “Actual Drew Barrymore” as of course i have no fucking grounds.

    Jenn: i loves my peeps 🙂

    Reply

  5. vanchick
    Jul 29, 2010 @ 06:12:06

    Elan: speaking of a good memory and the first line of your post….it’s late, what can i say 🙂

    Reply

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