Wednesday, May 27, 2009

No smoke, all fire

Today is my three-weeks-and-one-day anniversary in nicotine detox. According to all of the experts (i.e. my friends who have already given up), three weeks is the watershed, the milestone, the pinnacle of my achievement. 

All that three weeks abstinence has proven to me is that:

a) I am excellent at stealth following smokers in an attempt to second hand smoke on the street
b) Not smoking is detrimental to my appearance. I have chewed my lips, fingers and any available limb to a bloody stump. I have pulled out hair and ruined my posture by constantly sitting on my hands. If three weeks stretches into a longer timeframe, I will have to start wearing a bell around my neck. 
c) My former colleagues in the smoking community are out to get me. Everywhere I turn they are inhaling with orgasmic satisfaction. The bastards. 

I am beginning to blame Allan Carr for all that is wrong with the world. He promised me (a 100+ page promise) that quitting would be a joy,  a freedom never before felt. My pink lungs and I would skip down grassy meadows with pockets full of unwasted cash. He lied. 
For a start, there isn't a grassy meadow for miles around, and my cigarette money is now being blown on Wispas. I may not smell like an ashtray anymore, but I'm sure you can get a whiff of my desperation/chocolate overload. 

It was my conscience that got me in the end. My 11 year old sister, with eyes like saucers, asking me to stop smoking because she doesn't want me to die. Goddamn primary school logic. How can you refuse that? 

But there are many out there who don't know my little sister. They laugh in the face of cancer and stained fingers. They drag on their cigarette with gay abandon. I'm becoming so bitter and twisted against these devil-may-care smokers that I am seriously considering joining Ash, just to ruin their fun. 

I'm sure I'll get over this 'hump'. 
In the meantime, try not to look as if you're not enjoying it so feckin' much. 

Monday, May 25, 2009

We moan, therefore we are

A new survey released today shows pretty much what we already knew - the Irish are world class moaners. Second only to the English in the global survey, we spend almost 10 hours a week moaning. 
That's not complaining, mind you. 
We can moan about weather, tiredness, traffic and work, but we must never, ever complain. 

I stood by last week, watching with a mixture of in awe and horror,  as a woman stepped out of a supermarket queue to complain to a series of security guards, checkout girls and finally a gum chewing manager. I couldn't even tell you what she was complaining about - me and my fellow gawkers were so stunned and embarrassed that someone had raised their voice in a public place that I couldn't take in the subject matter. Shouty Woman was Irish, middle class and (apart from the shouting) betrayed no obvious signs of mental illness. How rare and wonderful to have someone stand up and demand their rights. And how mortifying for the rest of us. 

All the consumer watchdogs, experts and give-'em-hell enthusiasts encourage us to haggle for prices, complain when we're slighted and stand up for ourselves. I probably exceed my alloted 10 hours of moaning per week, but I couldn't complain if you paid me. I entertain notions of stern, scolding letters to establishments who have wronged me, but somehow they never materialize  - and not through lack of pondering exactly the right tone (firm yet reasonable - God forbid this faceless stranger should think me unreasonable).  If I can't even manage to complain on paper the likelihood of me ever complaining face to face is pretty much non existent. I used to think that the power to complain would descend on me when I came of age. I never figured out what age that was, exactly. 

Now, I turn to the good 'ole refuge of blaming society, Irish culture and anyone and anything I can think of. For the most part, Irish people have an acceptance of any situation. The phrase 'Ah sure it's grand' is our national protest against any suggestion of change. We'd hate to put you out. 
Things are changing, slowly. Now that it's hitting our pocket, we don't mind an aul march down Kildare Street... buried anonymously in the crowd, you understand. Shouty Woman and her raised heckles were not afraid to stand alone. I'm sure she moans about the Friday evening traffic, or the rainy May weather, but she can proclaim her dissatisfaction to the world without a hint of a blush. 

Me? I'll just whinge about my Monday morning blues and the fact that I can't complain.