The Wink is a labor of love, occasional source of ire and constantly influenced by the toddlywinks in my life- my daughters. There's also the HunkyWink. You'll read all about them as The Wink unfolds. Please feel free to wink back!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Confession born from compliments

A writer friend of mine has long contended that blogs are a mechanism for receiving instant gratification, "It's navel gazing. You can't improve because it's done with a bunch of people poised to fawn over each word that you type." Not exactly the kind of thing that makes you feel lifted, and while I don't entirely disagree with elements of his opinion, I think it undersells us as a community. Yes, there are lesser writers and yes, they often soar to the top for reasons seeming to stem from something other than the quality of their writing. I'll also concede that there are plenty of sweet comments posted, but I think there is great encouragement, challenging and collaboration.

I have watched friendships and alliances grow from shared experiences communicated though conversations in posts and comments, I have seen causes and the people living them achieve staggering attention and participation. I've found friends, confidantes, and people that make me smile.

This July I'll head to Blogher '08 and meet people like her and her. Hopefully I'll have this up and running by then!

Back to the title: Confession born from compliments.

I posted some belly shots the other day. I think it would be safe to say that every single person that commented did so with a generous heart, raving about my glow. It was wonderful, but left me thinking, "Hmm, maybe I should post the shots that make me feel like my head, and specifically my cheeks, have exploded achieving Mr. Potato Head like proportions?" Or write something about how irrational I can be when the I'm-so-tired-and-ready-to-be-done-being-pregnant moments hit. But then I thought of something else, something more along the lines of what makes the blogging community a place where you can find refuge, solace and understanding.

And so, my confession: I was a smoker.

I used to smoke. I smoked a lot. I was 17 when I started, 18 when I was truly hooked and about 27 when I quit. I'll be 35 this July. Even at my heaviest smoking, well over half a pack a day, people didn't believe I was a smoker, something about how it just "doesn't seem like you, Amanda." Well, I did. And lately, I have read posts about quitting and trying to quit. Often I don't think about how I used to smoke, too busy with the business of the day, whether it's work, the girls or just trying to make sure the laundry, dishes and dog hair don't overpower us. Then there are the times when I am walking down the street and I catch a whiff of cigarette smoke, both the smoker and the cigarette are long since gone, but seductive wisps of the forbidden linger. I have ambled nonchalantly out of my way to get one little sniff.

I am not immune to it. I know with every fiber of my being that the more than seven years it's been since my last smoke are a blessing. I know that one day I will wish that I could have back the time I stole from myself, the moments I will not have with my girls and Sean for the choice I made all those years ago. Yet it is still recent enough that I remember that no threat of mortality, no derisive commentary on smell or expense could convince me to change. I still look at people smoking and have two reactions, "You poor son of a bitch," and "You lucky fuck."

It is an incredibly powerful addiction, all the while you loathe yourself for walking into the convenient store, your last five spot burning a hole in your pocket, you want nothing to come between you and that first drag. I'd sooner have let a call go to voice mail than delay the sensation of the smoke filling my lungs. I don't ever want to go back to smoking and have reminded myself many times of how when you return to smoking it takes a while, you have to overcome the guilt, the revolt and the trepidation and then it happens, you are hooked again and the hopelessness towers over you, clouding everything but the inevitability of your next smoke.

I may not look like a smoker or a reformed smoker, but I am, and if you ever need an encouraging word or a shoulder or anything, I am here. I admire every person out there who is trying to quit and I feel for those who haven't. And for as hard as it is, I can also say that it can be done.

Good luck and thanks.



Blogger Mrs. Chicken said...

You're right, it doesn't seem like you. But good for you for a) quitting and b) admitting that it was hard to do.

My MIL smokes, as does most of my husband's extended family. It infuriates me, watching them put cancer in their mouths and live on and on, while my dad died never having tasted smoke.

It is one of those absolutes for me - smoking is bad. But the people who smoke? Nothing more than humans.

Good post.

March 24, 2008 12:44:00 PM PDT

Blogger liv said...

I used to be what I would glamorously call a "social smoker." I stopped when I got pregnant with my son which was about 6 years ago. I had a cigarette here and there on "girls' nights" when he was an infant and thought I'd die from it. I understand the call of the smoke, but the feeling in the morning is what stops me.

March 24, 2008 1:16:00 PM PDT

Blogger flutter said...

you know what?

Love you anyway. So there.

March 24, 2008 1:38:00 PM PDT

Blogger Beck said...

Hey, I used to smoke a lot, too!
But not cigarettes.
Youth makes us dumb.

I think there's something slightly mean in the attitude that only negative comments really cause creative growth. That doesn't mean that I think that most bloggers are fantastic writers, but there ARE lots of fantastic writers out there. I do feel a bit ruined as a writer now, because I'm so used to a lot of instant feedback and my REAL writing feels a bit starved as a result. Oh well.

March 24, 2008 3:18:00 PM PDT

Blogger Jenny, the Bloggess said...

1. I cannot wait to meet you at Blogher.

2. Quitting smoking is harder than quitting heroine. Which means that you could start doing heroine if you want because you could probably kick that too.

3. Don't start doing heroine.

4. I'm kind of high.

5. I shouldn't be allowed to comment on painkillers.

March 24, 2008 3:24:00 PM PDT

Blogger BetteJo said...

Quitting smoking was tough. It's been over 5 years for me and when I catch a whiff sometimes it does smell so good.
But it's so incredibly bad for you and I'm glad your kids have never seen you smoke.

As for blogging and being a good writer - I don't do it for that reason. I know I'm not a great writer but I enjoy the process and the give and take. Immediate gratification? Maybe. But so what? :)

Also - sharing stories and experiences helps people. It's why I write about depression and anxiety and things that have been a part of my life.

People like to know they aren't alone.

March 24, 2008 5:07:00 PM PDT

Blogger BetteJo said...

Oh and .. the belly is beautiful no matter what - and I never expect anyone to be perfect. :)

March 24, 2008 5:10:00 PM PDT

Blogger Amy U. said...

Oh, I hope we will meet up in San Francisco!


March 24, 2008 5:34:00 PM PDT

Blogger Lara said...

i'm really glad you quit. i'm glad for your sake (better quality of life!) and for your daughters' sakes. you are strong and inspiring. :)

oh, and i'm also really glad you'll be at blogher, because it means i will get to meet you and hug you in person!

March 24, 2008 6:52:00 PM PDT

Blogger Jacki said...

I enjoyed reading this post. I am sure I do not fall under the fantastic writer category, but I love blogging because I love the creative writing process. And meeting new people that I would otherwise never have met.

March 24, 2008 7:10:00 PM PDT

Blogger PunditMom said...

I am so excited that I'll get to meet you!

March 24, 2008 7:18:00 PM PDT

Blogger daysgoby said...

I am convinced that smokers, like alcoholics, should refer to themselves as 'recovering' smokers.

There are some days in the grocery where the smell clinging to someone will make me quicken my steps past them, muttering ick under my breath....

but then there are the days when I walk past someone lighting up on the sidewalk and the breeze wafts a bit near me and I would like nothing more than to be smoking that cigarette. Intoxicating!

I haven't smoked in nine years. I wonder, will I ever be over this?

March 24, 2008 7:48:00 PM PDT

Blogger slouching mom said...

eager to meet you at blogher!

March 24, 2008 7:53:00 PM PDT

Blogger Christine said...

i used to smoke, too, a million years ago.

and, yes, to some degree blogging is navel gazing with instant gratification, etc., etc. but, trust me, i know lots of Real Writers who basically stand around kissing each other's asses and putting "bloggers" and Not Real Writers down. i'd rather be in this community surrounded by good people like you and your commenters here.

March 25, 2008 5:53:00 AM PDT

Blogger cce said...

I occasionally wish I were one of those glamorous people who can pull off smoking and looking sexy and can manage to feel whole and human and not all horsey and raspy and allergic the following morning.

I've never been much good at nicotine but the wacky tabacky...I liked that a whole lot. Maturity comes with its share of compromise.

Wish I were brave enough and rich enough to go to BlogHer. Maybe next year.

March 25, 2008 7:02:00 AM PDT

Blogger Oh, The Joys said...

I used to smoke... but mostly only when I drank.

Liv and I will run you ragged at Blogher!!

March 25, 2008 9:42:00 AM PDT

Blogger Karen Sugarpants said...

Have fun at BlogHer!

As far as real writers vs bloggers - to me they are the same thing. I've stopped comparing myself to others and write for me. It works and it's less stressful.

Thanks for stopping by my site though - yours it really funny, honest and your belly is freaking adorable!

March 25, 2008 9:47:00 AM PDT

Blogger Gwen said...

I've never smoked, but I still love the smell of cigarettes and coffee first thing in the morning, which is its own bizarreness. Don't the ads say that you can reverse the damage of smoking if you stop? I think they do. I think you should claim that.

And I also think it's very kind of you to offer your support to others who are trying to quit, since it appears to be an almost impossible thing to do.

March 25, 2008 10:33:00 AM PDT

Anonymous Ree said...

I'm sorry, are you talking to me? Three per day babe. ;-) Three per day. And I'll quit when I'm damn good and ready.

I'm teasing you.

I'm also extremely jealous that they will all meet you and my poor sad self will not be at Blogher '08. Why couldn't THIS be the year it's in Chicago? Sigh.

March 25, 2008 6:12:00 PM PDT

Anonymous susiej said...

Your post reminds me of my aunt... three days before her death, after her long bout with cancer. Even then, she said, "I remember waking up to the smell of coffee, and having my first cigarette... those were the days," she said with a smile.

About this blogging compliments thingy... I'm in awe over the good writing that takes place all over the blogsphere. And when I read good writing, it demands that I write something up to that level too. Yet, very interesting concept you've brought up.

So, please tell me, how you can swing Blogher, with new baby and toddlers at home?

March 25, 2008 7:11:00 PM PDT

OpenID thecheekofgod said...

"I am convinced that smokers, like alcoholics, should refer to themselves as 'recovering' smokers."

Even though I've only been smoking for four short years, I've thought of myself as a smoker ever since those first few puffs in the pool hall. The addictive nature is part of my makeup, and it's latest manifestation was through smoking.

So, yeah, I'm a smoker, I just don't smoke anymore. Does that even make sense?!)


Thank you so much for the link to my post, and for your encouraging words. You have a kind heart, and a HUGE belly.

I'm still doing it, btw.

And finally, all this talk about Blogher makes me wish I was a chick. Can guys come?


Brian (tysdaddy)

March 25, 2008 8:30:00 PM PDT

Anonymous susiej said...

Oh, and my question, by the way, is sincere, because I'm trying to figure out a way to swing it, and I thought, how is she doing it?

March 25, 2008 9:21:00 PM PDT

Blogger Amanda said...

I am taking the baby with me. She'll be in the Baby Bjorn nursing and sleeping. The girls will get some quality time with Sean.

March 26, 2008 5:07:00 AM PDT

Blogger Janet said...

I was a fake smoker, the kind who bummed cigarettes but didn't inhale because, secretly, I believed my mom when she said people with asthma who smoke are fucking stupid.

And you're gong to blogher too??!!! Man, I am missing out on meeting every-freakin'-body.

Off to pout now.

March 26, 2008 7:27:00 PM PDT

Blogger Amy Y said...

I was a smoker too. It hasn't been 7 years since I quit, though. I smoked in between pregnancies, off and on. My goal was always to be a "social smoker" ~ only have a cigarette with a glass of wine or a cocktail. That worked as long as I didn't bring them home. Then, I'd slip right back into the habit.

Fortunately, my boys are old enough to know and understand what I'm doing if I smoke, and that it's wrong. Wanting to be a good example for them is stronger motivation than my own health, thinking that I eat healthy enough to be invincible to pesky things like lung cancer.

But still, I miss it like an old friend that has gone but whose memory still lingers in my mind... And I imagine I always will.

March 27, 2008 8:00:00 AM PDT


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