Tag Archives: cigarettes

I went to BlogHer and all I got was…

a(n all TOO) close encounter with irritable bowel syndrome, an inflated inferiority complex and my period.

Before I get into the moment by moment break down of my conference experience I think I should first preface this post by saying any and all general negativity derived cannot really be blamed on any one or thing other than myself.

This experience taught me, if nothing else, that I am not a particularly good social networker, either on or offline and although I think I might possibly one day be an a’ight blogger, I will never be anything close to an “elite” persona because it’s just. not. me.

I am pretty sure my perspective of the conference was different from that of most attendees. I didn’t stay at the hotel or attend any of the keynotes or parties. 

Because of this?

I’m pretty sure I missed out on a large chunk of the experience. Again, nobody’s fault but my own. From the beginning I wasn’t really interested in attending parties or the immersing myself in the overwhelming social aspect of this event.

In retrospect, I guess that was my first mistake since so much of BlogHer is about hobnobbing and gettin’ down during off-hours.

*sigh*

Let’s do this shall we?

I start Friday morning off fairly well. I get up, have my coffee, get dressed and I’m actually out the door ahead of schedule!

We-ow!

My main goal is to attend all the available sessions so I can gain as much how-to-be a better blogger tids and bits as logistically possible.

There is a welcome breakfast followed by something called “Speed Dating, BlogHer-style” that I’m not all that keen on making it to NYC in time for. Knowing what I know now, my lack of interest in activities such as these should have probably been an early sign to me that I wasn’t going to get as much from this conference as countless others BUT I’m stubborn, so on we go…

Everything is going according to plan, I’m in the car driving up the turnpike, listening to a little Rilo Kiley for inspiration and good vibes when ALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL of a sudden… my innards start shouting Mayday! and I have nary a floatation device at hand.

If you know what I’m saying…

I’m talking this is the WORST and I do mean The. Worst. stomach pains I’ve ever had so far away from a toilet in-my-entire-life. I don’t have much recourse here but to take deep breaths and pray to a god I’m not so sure gives a shit about my GI problems.

The severe pains persist all the way through the Lincoln Tunnel up into Manhattan.

Have I mentioned that at this point I have fallen a bit off course and I’m now stuck in traffic on a street I shouldn’t have turned down in the first place?

Because I am.

So I get to the Hilton with some time to spare and I ruuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuun to the bathroom where next to nothing happens. That’s right. Next to nothing. Let’s leave it at that. So whatever, I’m still on schedule and I didn’t crap my pants.

The first session is O.K. Kind of vague and over-generalized and initiate my feelings of inferiority in this particular atmosphere.  It’s at this point where I first start to fear that: I do not belong.

Lunch feels like something out of the first day of highschool; shuffling my way into a large room cautiously glancing about for the sight of a familiar, or at least non-hostile, face.

I begin to feel as I often do when stressed and unsure: not hungry.

After lunch, or as I had – half of a 1/5 of a sandwich and 2 pieces of watermelon, I skip outside to partake in an activity often used as a crutch, security blanket or just plain god-awful but for whatever reason, unavoidable, addiction: smoking. I’m not proud to say that I still use cigarettes as a social tool but I never said I was perfect. Anyway, thank GOD for smoking because that’s where I start to feel the natural ease of fraternization return.

I often use the term organic when referring to situations that unfold in a natural, unforced way. I hate being fake or feeling fake or pressured to “perform” in order to adapt myself to large social settings.  I’m not in the business of getting people to like me under false pretense. I am who I am and unfortunately (for me) that means I’m not all that marketable, at least not to those who aren’t willing to break through my crunchy exterior and the find the warm and gooey mess that lurks beneath my crackly shell.

Try not to take that last part too literally…

I did meet one person who seemed up to the challenge of my (apparently) prickly personality though I doubt I made a huge splash with most of the other folks at the conference. I’ve always been that person who is often pigeonholed as snobby or aloof when really I just hate small talk. Is that SO wrong?

Ugh. It is isn’t it?

So, instead of fitting in or making friends right off the bat, I usually come off as a strange awkward alien or I just make unintentional enemies. The honest to god truth is that of the (very few) people I am still friends with since my childhood I can’t think of a single one who upon first knowing me who just did NOT like me. Then again, I am a shitty friend so, I guess I fooled THEM!

foolish, FOOLISH, sucka...

So day one is over and I leave feeling at least a little better now that I had found ONE person who seemed to not want to flee in terror from my presence. I get seriously lost on my way back to the Lincoln Tunnel due to my having absolutely NO sense of direction (thanks, Dad!). I finally make it home, just a lot later than I should have.

Day two’s drive is EXPONENTIALLY better than day one, with no almost-exploding-bowel-syndrome or inconvenient slow-motion tours down 7th Ave.

On a Friday.

During rush hour.

Because that was fun.

I meet up with my new friend for a smoke before the first sessions of the day and already feel better than I did the day before.

*objects in this picture are not as close as they seem. (i'm pretty sure my camera was on 20x zoom or, as I like to call it, super-stealth-stalk-mode a.k.a. i'm way too embarrassing to actually go up to her and ask for a real picture so this will have to do)

I attend the session with Jenny the Bloggess, mainly because I think she’s cute and hilarious and a complete and total inspiration to me as both a blogger and a humorist and she proves to be all that and more. She is probably even more cute and funny in person even though I never thought it humanly possible or particularly fair to the rest of us. There are numerous times she has the crowd lol-ing in their seats and at one point I’m thinking someone might misconstrue the literal SCREAMS of laughter for screams of slaughter.

Apparently no one else was all that concerned…

As far as day two of the conference, this is the highlight of my day. Aside from lunch, that is. The rest of the sessions leave me feeling *kind of* depressed. I begin to feel more and more out of my element as the day wears on and being that it’s the bee’s birthday my mind is most definitely elsewhere.

I swear that in writing about this experience it was not my goal to bad-mouth or bash BlogHer. It just wasn’t really the right fit for ME. Had I been a bit more immersed in “the scene” or been a mom, or more of a business oriented woman of tomorrow, it may have been more impactful. In a good way. Instead I just felt like I didn’t belong. It wasn’t until Saturday afternoon that I discovered this thing called “Birds of a Feather” where you sign up on a list to sit with/meet like-minded bloggers.

Had I known about this sooner, I probably would have exchanged a lot more business cards…

All in all it was a learning experience and I did walk away with a lot more knowledge than I had to begin with but more than anything I learned that I just don’t belong with the BlogHer crowd. In a few years time? Perhaps. I think I would benefit from a smaller blogging offline network, one where I wouldn’t feel like SUCH a small fish in an all-encompassing ocean of internet experience and clique-ish-ness.

Ohhhhhhhhhhhh yeah. I went there…

I want to wrap this up by saying that in almost every way BlogHer lived up to the expectations I set around it before I ever set foot in the Hilton. I knew it would be clique-y and miles above my head technically and professionally. The problem that I had was BlogHer didn’t exceed my expectations, which I had so hoped it would and probably all of us hope will happen no matter what situation we’re thrown into.

And, yet again, whose fault is this?

***please point fingers in direction of computer screen***

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A Smoking Gun

no smoking

I recently came across a picture of myself smoking a cigarette and my first reaction, after looking over each shoulder twice, checking to make sure that no children, coworkers or McGruff the Crime Dog were looking, was to DESTROY ALL EVIDENCE!!! I will admit that I have been a smoker during parts of both my adolescent and adult life, quitting periodically for various reasons. I made my final decision about quitting a few weeks before my 26th birthday, telling myself that to effectively prevent smoking related health issues in the future, not to mention for reasons of pure vanity, (premature wrinkles and yellow teeth? I’ll pass on that, thank you) I would cease smoking after that point. And that sort of worked. I most certainly had cut back DRAMATICALLY and had been doing so for some time by placing total restrictions for smoking in both my car and in the house even prior to my final declaration to quit once and for all. However, I was finding major difficulty in my quest for a better life especially when it came to the social element of smoking.

When I first started smoking it was because my friends did and I wanted to rebel against all that was decent pure and drive my parents crazy all at the same time. Shocking, right? I’m sure my story will ring true with many people who started smoking in early adolescence and just kept on keepin’ on well after the peer pressure melted away. I would chain smoke on my drive to school and/or work all through my teens & early 20’s, lighting up in between every class even if the class was less than a stone’s throw away or WORSE, in the same building. And I convinced myself I wasn’t addicted? The funny thing is I still DON’T believe I was fully addicted in the sense of nicotine having a sticky hold around my lungs. I was, however, completely addicted in the social sense. I needed a cigarette to talk to someone, to order a drink at a bar, to hang out at a show, to walk from point A to B. In a way, a cigarette was like a can of mace or a Pit Bull at my side. Smoking was a barrier that I was able to keep secured around myself when I didn’t want to be approached and used as an alluring gauze that would attract fellow comrades in cigs when I wanted to socialize. A cigarette could act as another member in a conversation when there was a lull. There was no fear of feeling weak or inadequate when I had a “friend” with me, you know? I could conquer anything with my trusty sidekick and I used to rank cigarettes as #1 in my tri-fecta of importance, #2 being gas and #3 being food. A pretty screwy system in retrospect but I thought I had it allllll figured out.

There were also two major outside factors which caused me to rethink my habits. The first was when cigarettes went from being an unheard of $5+ a pack to its current range of outrageousness, $7-$9 depending where you go. (FYI – cigarettes are still comparatively cheap down south. Another good reason we left North Carolina when we did. But I digress…) The second was when the bars and restaurants around here started putting the ban on smoking. Even the most dedicated smoker will contemplate whether leaving their seat at the bar is worth standing outside in the rain/snow/freezing cold/whatever to suck a fag (and if your mind went there, then shame on you, because in my vocabulary a fag is a smoking implement ONLY and yes my mind DID go there only after I wrote it out and it made me laugh and I’m leaving it so shame on me too, thank you, this has been a public service announcement, moving on…).  

I am, what some would call, practical in the money sense. That’s the nicest way to put it though frugal would work as well. I’m not a cheapskate, I just do not like wasting money and to me, $6.50 for a pack of smokes that would end up being $20 or more each week was $20 more than I could afford to waste.  So, like any person truly dedicated to the craft of remaining cool and “with it” while sticking to their guns (somewhat), I just started bumming smokes from people when the occasion came to be and it was a kosher smoking environment. I’m sure that made me outrageously popular and wickedly in demand for social functions but it was my way of still being a part of the group without completely breaking my vows. You see for the past 2 years or so I haven’t actually purchased a pack of cigarettes for myself. That’s not to say I haven’t smoked more than a few packs in that time but I know it’s a vast improvement from where I was just 5 years ago.

Are you starting to wonder where I’m actually going with this? Ha! Me too. Ok, so my point is that quitting smoking is no easy feat but you just need to put it in your mind that this is what you want and what you are going to do. Set restrictions for your smoking habits and after awhile just the smell of smoke will sicken you, trust me. Beside the reasons I mentioned earlier, one of the bigger factors in keeping me away from the ol’ smoke sticks is the ecological impact. That’s right, all those butts thrown out windows and in storm drains? Yeah, they’re probably still there people, filters DO NOT biodegrade. So unless every time I, or you for that matter, smoke a cigarette and put the remaining offender in some sort of trash receptacle for proper disposal, we are a part of the problem and just another litterbug. For shame! Also, as a smoker in recovery, I have noticed how it has become less and less acceptable to smoke publicly or in common areas, even outside. Have you ever seen people smoke at Disney World? Probably not, because if you do choose to smoke there you are confined to 1 of 5 designated smoking areas located around some corner of some building that is used infrequently or under construction and placed at the ass end of the park, usually near a bathroom (gag!), and so basically you are a park pariah. If you know a reluctant quitter, send them to Disney, that place can shame you into kicking the habit. But the HUGE HUGE HUGE reason for not smoking anymore is I have an amazing 12 year old sister who looks up to me quite a bit and I would be just devastated if she decided to smoke because I do.

I do still crave cigarettes from time to time and I do not know when or if I will ever completely and totally be done with them. Lately, when I have one I can’t even stand the smell of my hand after I put it out so much so that I have to run to a bathroom and wash my hands profusely. I hate the smell of it on my clothes and hair and find myself pissed when I walk into an area where there is smoking and I’m not and I am now left with the side-effect of stink on my person. G.R.O.S.S. I know I have a lot of work to do until I am totally smoke-free but the intent is there and no one said it was going to be easy…

I also cannot live with the thought of letting down C3-PO. Can you?

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