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The Public Ineffectual

For entertainment purposes only.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Ambivalence? Maybe...

Misery Loves...A New Accessory
Originally uploaded by Oblivia.

Every decision I make, every day, accumulates into a notion of how I want to live my life. But my decisions are also often marked by a strong ambivalence - an ambivalence that is situated on a continuum of the important and the not-so-important - but underneath it is the desire to do something right - maybe even perfect.

Organic versus ordinary vegetables? Organic! FOX or CBC? CBC! These simple questions represent 'ideal' scenarios. I *try* but I'm human and I make less-than-optimal decisions that are driven by sometimes practical constraints. Organic stuff is expensive and supply can be unreliable. It doesn't really matter whether I watch The Simpsons on FOX or CBC.

Sometimes I am asked to take a certain course of action because that is the decision that I made...and having made that decision calls for a certain course of action. The ambivalence of not making this decision because of the possibility of failure or even being just plain wrong is fucking torture.

A case in point is smoking. I started at an age when I should already have known better. The reasons why I started and why I continued are banal in the extreme and are not worth recounting. The list is as long as church is boring.

I hate myself for doing things I know are wrong which only makes things worse and makes me less able to act. They say you only regret the things you do, not the things you don't do. I don't have a lot of regrets save for those occasions where I maintained a committment to something that I didn't continue to believe in and couldn't find it in me to draw the line and just stop. This is the point at which I am being driven by circumstance. Rather, circumstance is driving...no... riding me...like a pony at a county fair. The ambivalence is really the highest form of disregard. With it, I'm caught in a cycle of self-abuse and self-loathing.

I've always known I didn't see myself a smoker in perpetuity. There is the threat of disease which looms but doesn't loom large since I'm somewhat resigned to the idea that living seems to gives you cancer. In past attempts to quit, I've made appeals to my Higher Vanity hoping the chant of smoking is soooo bad for your skin; smoking gives you wrinkles around your lips - are you ready to watch your lipstick feather? might be enough to sway me. (OK, OK. It's funnier when I say it.) And, to top it all off, some of my best friends are smokers! It doesn't make one iota of difference to my opinion of them the way that, say, discovering they believe what Bush is doing in Iraq is morally justified might. The mere facts of the situation are just not enough. There was always something more in the mix to this habit.

And so, around midnight on Monday, I stubbed out my last cigarette and I went to bed early.

I've been quiet about it, yes. I suspect MD read through my actions - he has a habit of doing that - and saw that my recent gym efforts have been to institute a different habit before quitting the other nefarious (only marginally more smelly) habit. I haven't done anything social since that would otherwise call for a smoke like going to a bar or cafe. You will witness me bounce off the walls for craving a cigarette even as nicotine courses through my body by osmosis (gum/patch).

I am going to try NOT to be blog obsessed with this, I promise. I will ask for your indulgence in advance though when I need to vent. And if you see me start a nic fit in front of you, please, just take my hand and squeeze it for a second. I will likely register a look of shock for being so transparent and laugh. I so need to laugh.

I'm going to try this quitting thing again and you may watch me fail. But I'm going to try. The process of turning this ship around is going to be more like an ocean liner than a sailboat. This may take a little while.

**The image you see above is actually an 'imitation' Louis Vuitton cigarette pack holder I bought at a market in Seoul. What you see poking out is nicotine gum. If I have to look like a freak, I gotta be super-freaky.


At 3:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm just back from my overseas travel and logged back on to find this news. You have my utmost support (as always) in finding new addictions. Gym and blogging seem like good substitutes no? :) But it is so hard to haul butt to the gym in the winter, no? So seems like the blog wins. Hm....

Ra ra ra! Go Oblivia!

You know that publically making a statement like this blog entry, gains you the support of all of your friends, and also makes it real for you.

And hey, maybe there will be a cute guy at the gym again, and this time maybe he will respond to you and inspire you to haul butt in the snow! :)


At 3:08 PM, Blogger Oblivia said...

MD: where have you been? Every time I turn around you have just come back from somewhere fabulous...I'm sure this time is no exception.

Blogging has been sparse so I don't know if it wins. Blogging - all writing - makes things worse for smoking, I think.

Sometimes, I see people who work at the gym and envy them. I feel like they've got it made. *sigh*

Thank you for your support. So....what next....you think I should take up crack?

At 5:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi. Japan, Thailand (yes, I arrived on boxing day - go figure), Singapore, Hong Kong, and then a terrible connection via London! But I'm back. :) It was a good trip overall.

Next addiction? Hm....West coast visits perhaps??!?!?!?! There are hundreds of east coast types that come out west for the weather - in an addictive kind of way. Might just work! :)


At 6:25 PM, Blogger Oblivia said...

Wow - what a trip! I am a little concerned I'm only hearing about this now.

West Coast is definitely on the agenda especially now that I have given up smoking. The rumour here on the east coast is that you can get up to 40 lashings for a merely flashing a cigarette in public where you are.

I thought of you on Boxing Day, actually. You are definitely down on my list as "Most Likely to be Implicated In An International Incident" (in a good way of course). Clearly my misgivings weren't too strong.

What the *hell* are you doing going back via Europe apart from amassing frequent flyer points? Can't wait to hear more...will call soon...

At 9:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

if i did it, you can too. just drink lots of water and be prepared to be completely brain dead for a while. oh and that vuitton thang looks like it may do a good job of holding an ipod. :P

you go girl!



At 12:26 AM, Blogger Oblivia said...

Hey Jen! Hearing you loud and clear on the 'brain dead' thing. There is some serious detox going on - I might even invest in some detox tea. I'm getting nicotine though but those other chemicals I've left behind might be doing something to me.

I can still taste it though in the back of my throat. Its like a phantom limb.

You also read my mind on the LV thing. I was looking at it thinking, "If I don't smoke and don't need nicorettes, what am I going to do with this?" Buy a frikkin iPod with the money I save. By my calculations, I should be able to afford one by June!!!

At 12:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, it actually is 40 lashings with an organic cane for thinking about cigarettes in public. It is 400 with a non-organic cane (for added insult) for actually flashing one - unless of course it is at Amsterdam cafe. Then you simply fit in.

"Most likely to be implicated in an international incident"?!?!?!?! Hm....Do tell more. I haven't recently caused any trouble that I know of. Ok, perhaps a little. But nothing too major! :)

The trip back via Europe ended up saving over $1500 on the ticket price, as well as letting me take 2 free north america trips on the same ticket. I got one of those Round the World tickets - it saves a bunch, and is really a great way to go. Unfortunately you have to always continue in the same direction. If I had more time I could have visited 2 cities in Europe too. But I had to get back. :( Oh, and the extra frequent flyer points are a bonus for having to travel 24 hours. :)

Looking forward to catching up, it will be interesting to talk on the phone without that deep dragging sound!


At 2:28 AM, Blogger Vila H. said...

Hmm, I guess we'll hold off on coffee for a little while -- but I hope this doesn't mean you're avoiding my blog...?

Bonne chance,

At 5:50 PM, Blogger Oblivia said...

Vila: I think coffee is still do-able. I managed to go out last night and keep the cigarette thing in check, thankfully.

At 12:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i had no idea!
you held up famously last night, congrats!!!!!
now i have another reason to look up to you

At 4:22 AM, Blogger Oblivia said...


Aw shucks. Thanks sweet-thing-from-last-night. I was pretty pleased myself actually. I had a couple of weak moments there early on but it was pretty well under control actually. The resolve is best in the early stages, I find. I'm quite a veteran of this quitting thing....

At 12:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Professional quitter. Haha. Reminds me of my improv pal that did stand-up, and the first time I saw his routine. He started it off by saying, "I've been married and divorced 3 times." Then a big pause. Then, "To the same woman." I had never known. I thought it was just part of his routine. But when I spoke to him afterwards it was true. Can you believe it?!?!?!?!


At 7:49 AM, Blogger anninator said...

Hey Oblivia! i'm deeply sympathetic to your quitting efforts. i've considered quitting so many times, but i just don't know if it's possible here in Korea! price is no deterrent: they just raised the price by 500 won. geez! oh no! 2500 won per pack! that and i'd have to stop hanging out with my chimney friends for like, a year, till i can overcome the cravings...i really applaud your efforts and wish you the best of luck. btw i've been checking up on your blog frequently and i love it. not only do i get to keep on your lovely life (i like the longer hair btw) but i can remember sweet montreal so well...(i'm just in the stages of gettin me own blog off the ground; i'll keep you posted yea)

At 2:32 PM, Blogger Oblivia said...

Aaaaaaaaaagh! Everybody Run! Its the ANNINATOR!

I'm so glad you came to the party!

I was just thinking of you last night mostly in terms of "jeez, i'm a heel for not writiing her an email sooner...." I will surely get on it now.

As for smoking, I'm phlegm-ey. And yes, its terribly difficult to quit in Korea. I read about the price hike but even a price hike to $9 per pack here and around $12 per pack in Sydney didn't seem to really stop anyone. Have you ever heard anyone use that as a prime motivation for quitting? It tends to create people who bum cigarettes routinely though. I don't know what THAT is doing to the social fabric. And, to top it all off, there are so few restrictions in Korea on where you can smoke making it all the more difficult.

Thanks for your kind words on the blog. I especially love it when people in far flung places like you read...

How is your Korean these days? Probably kicks my ass... :D


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