New Years Resolutions – Quitting Smoking

It’s really kind of hard to believe, but I quit smoking almost 9 years ago (Jan 1, 2005). It was very cliche, I did it as a New Year’s Resolution…. and I had tried countless other times to quit and not one of them took.

I think at the time the main concern was how expensive they were getting – I think they were a little over $4 at the time and I kept thinking it was going to to up and up (and it sure has). I had decided enough was enough (but I always thought that before quitting) and I meant it (like always) so I went out and bought Nicorette gum, the lozenge, and the Patch, I even ask my doctor for a Wellbutrin prescription. An extra step I had taped all over my bedroom and bathroom “You Can Quit Smoking” so I’d see it constantly. I also purchased a hypnosis/positive thinking tape (yes, cassette tape) that I played each night before I went to bed.

As the New Year approached I kept doubting I could do it, I wondered why I even bothered. Hadn’t countless attempts before failed at getting me to quit? Yes, but I was determined this time (like always).

I didn’t use the gum that day, the lozenge or the patch… I just stopped and gritted my teeth through it. The first day seemed so hard, the habits of when I’d light up were there with me – when I’d step outside, after eating, after sex, during commercials… I was always smoking it seemed and the first day was so hard to get out of that expectation.

I was grumpy for probably a month, but I had a lot of support of friends and coworkers who kept on encouraging me… before I knew it I no longer had the cravings or the desire to have one at all.

There was an immediate downside – everything smelled – whether good or bad I could smell all kinds of things I hadn’t before – car exhaust, bad breath, good breath, perfumes… and most of all smokers! Ugh, why didn’t anyone tell me how awful I smelled and how my breath was rancid like that? Probably because I hung out with other smokers, it became evident to me why some guys wouldn’t date a smoker and now I won’t date one.

There are still days when I consider a cigarette – after a really good meal, on rainy fall days, during movies with lots of smoking.. but I resist and remember how expensive it is (holy crap how can you afford that?) and how bad people smell.

I tried to quit a million times, I didn’t think this time would work either – but it did. Don’t give up, keep trying if you’re trying and eventually you’ll make it. I think after the first few months you’ll be happier, I know I am.

AA’s 6th Tradition and the Pink Can

AA’s sixth tradition reads as follows:

“6. An A.A. Group ought never endorse, finance, or lend the A.A. name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property, and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.” (short or regular form)

“6. Problems of money, property, and authority may easily divert us from our primary spiritual aim. We think, therefore, that any considerable property of genuine use to A.A. should be separately incorporated and managed, thus dividing the material from the spiritual. An A.A. group, as such, should never go into business. Secondary aids to A.A., such as clubs or hospitals which require much property or administration, ought to be incorporated and so set apart that, if necessary, they can be freely discarded by the groups. Hence such facilities ought not to use the A.A. name. Their management should be the sole responsibility of those people who financially support them. For clubs, A.A. managers are usually preferred. But hospitals, as well as other places of recuperation, ought to be well outside A.A.—and medically supervised. While an A.A. group may cooperate with anyone, such cooperation ought never go so far as affiliation or endorsement, actual or implied. An A.A. group can bind itself to no one.” (long form)

Many years ago old-timers would refer to Tradition 6 when people would talk about an “AA Picnic” “AA potluck” or “AA Dance” and say AA has no such things, and we do not endorse such things. Same thing that we don’t have “AA treatment centers”, most treatment centers base (loosely) their programs on the AA’s 12 steps, but are not affiliated nor endorsed by AA.

Here in Arizona I’ve seen a “Pink Can” being passed around to help pay for materials for H&I (Hospitals and Institutions) to provide Big Books and other A.A. literature to those places. This seems, to me, to be financing those outside institutions. So I don’t contribute to those cans…. But I was curious about them and the traditions so I did a google search and found the following in Box 459 News and Notes from the General Service Office of A.A. (AA’s newsletter)

Pink Cans: Small Change Brings Big Results (2006)

A large number of inmates in correctional facilities in the U.S. and Canada are in prison because of alcohol, and the flip side is that many of these alcoholics have found the Fellowship in prison. But the quest for sobriety doesn’t come easily behind the walls. Most incarcerated alcoholics have just one meeting a week available to them, and many others are on waiting lists and can get to none at all. That reality underlines the need to send literature into prisons to carry the message in print through the Big Book, other A.A. books and pamphlets, and the A.A. Grapevine.

How to raise enough money to keep a supply of literature flowing? Corrections committees throughout the service structure make raising money for literature a priority, and one idea that has become popular in some areas is having a pink can (or perhaps a blue or green one) prominently displayed on group literature tables as a way of collecting money for literature for prisons.

The concept originated (as far as we know) in the Northern California Area in 1957. The area Hospital and Institutions committee (H&I) was rapidly expanding its work in prisons, and the need for literature was increasing by leaps and bounds, to the point where it could no longer be met by individual contributions. Someone came up with the idea of passing around a can at group meetings, explaining that the pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters dropped into the can were intended for alcoholics in pris- ons and hospitals. How to make the cans stand out? Paint them pink. The idea caught on, and eventually groups throughout North America began displaying pink cans on their literature tables. In Northern California, the original one-quart paint cans have been replaced by plastic con- tainers with screw-on, slotted tops. In the beginning, some members were afraid that donations to the pink cans would decrease group contributions, and mindful of that possibility, the committee has always emphasized the importance of providing clear information. They send each group a flyer explaining what the cans are for, print

information in local A.A. newsletters, and always suggest that the secretary emphasize the importance of contributing to group expenses first.

Some areas have come up with variations on the basic concept. Northern New Jersey, for example, implemented the idea of having jail boxes, and the area corrections committee sends each group a letter of introduction describing the need and the purpose.

In the Southern Minnesota area, one of many that have embraced the pink can plan, an article in the area newsletter summed it up: “The pink can is not intended to detract from your group’s normal Tradition Seven contributions. We look only to collect spare change from as many groups as possible. If your group already sponsors a facility with literature, your participation in the pink can insures that literature is reaching all facilities, not just one or two. Does your group have a pink can? What a positive way to turn pocket change into the promises of the A.A. message.”

Which suggests that the GSO (General Service Office) is alright with this idea and on board.

But I question if the multi-billion dollar prison industry and treatment centers need us to provide literature to their inmates – their ideas of A.A.’s twelve step program is not the A.A. but a treatment program that takes our steps out of the book and puts them on worksheets and in handouts (opinion).

I don’t know how others feel about this, but I’m a little on the fence about it and would love to hear what others think about it.

Loss of Words

I went to see the Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug Friday night even after a friend had commented on Facebook about being disappointed with it. See, I’m a fan of the genre, I’m a fan of the book and three that came after – I could recall many of the parts that made up the Lord of the Rings trilogy but found I couldn’t for the Hobbit, that partially explains why my friend Rob was disappointed but I enjoyed the movie.

When I was watching the dwarves and Bilbo on the mountain – I found myself thinking of Flint Fireforge from the Dragonlance series and I got a little misty thinking about when he passed on and Tasslehoff’s tears… yet, knowing I read the Hobbit you’d think I could recall all the details of that, but I cannot. I remember Smaug, I remember there being dwarves, a spider and maybe some elves… but that’s about the extent of it. When I think of Dragonlance, I can recall intimate details and feelings about Raistlin and his brothers relationship, knowing how Tanis Half-Elven was torn between the ageless elf and the sultry Kitara… Maybe I loved that series more? I don’t know, but the Lord of the Rings trilogy stayed with me longer.

As I was thinking on it I think of all those books I read when I was younger and how they seemingly changed my life:

A Brave New World

1984

Flowers for Algernon

Way of the Peaceful Warrior

A ton of stories from Jack London

A Clockwork Orange

You know, I can’t recall details of those books, I have a memory of how much they meant to me at the time and how into them I was, but they didn’t stick. I remember a line from Way of the Peaceful Warrior “we only sell fruit juice here and don’t call me Pop” and I recall being truly frightened reading A Clockwork Orange… but I don’t really have any details, I can’t quote them or reference them with any authority as they’re gone.

I have them on my Kindle, I bought all these books because I used to own them and I wanted them to be a part of my collection again. And I might have to reread them again, to see if the magic is still there – if they grab me and take me to the world the author wanted me to experience with them, to see if I still get frightened during or if this time 1984 scares me more.

I don’t have memories of people from the late 70s to 80s either, they’re just gone. There are people from two different high schools that I’m supposed to know and I can’t seem to place them, they seem oddly familiar but they’re just not inside my head anymore. Kind of weird really. I pretend, it’s easy on Facebook to pretend I remember, but I don’t… There come times though when I run into them in real life and then the pretending go well, cause I can’t lie about it… happened a few years ago when I was visiting a friend I do remember and two of our high school mates showed up, but I couldn’t recall them and I should have been able to, and it’s happened since and will likely happen again. Part of why I stay in touch with some many people from past jobs is I’m afraid if I don’t I won’t be able to remember them – it could happen.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to rereading these stories and going to another world with the authors.