From Smoke to Vapor (Part 2 of 2)
This is a guest post by Rantz, who writes surrounded by a cloud of vapor.
By the summer of 2010 I’d had enough of smoking. It was a long time coming, built up over the decades, without a single event that pushed me over the edge. Instead it was a thousand little annoyances that ate away day after day, like nibbling ducks, culminating in my serious consideration of giving up the 30-year vice that had become such an integral part of my identity.
The little things
It was the little things… Those nibbling, quacking ducks… that really got to me. In the circle of ash that lay on the patio in a halo around the chair I used while “taking a break”. In the annoyance of pinhole burned clothes… ruined. In the tiny burns and scars on my hands and arms from flying embers. In the anger and frustration of a half-melted “J” key on my laptop, the result of my working past 3am, and the smoldering cig falling from my sleepy lips ¦the burning tip lodging momentarily between the keys before I managed to brush it aside.
My wife and I are blessed to have four daughters, who are all smart, funny, and constantly remind me that there are truly “good things” to be found in this world. With the kids around we made sure that only one of us was outside smoking at a time, so that the other could run “interference”, preventing our children from opening the door and witnessing Mom and Dad’s “nasty habit”.
How do you function without a cigarette?
Aside from the nicotine addiction, cigs were my totem, my “magic wand” and all of my creative work was done with cig in hand. Smoking was my toxic form of meditation. Instead of breathing in slowly, holding the breath, and expelling the “bad”, I was sucking in tar and chemicals and smoke, slowly expelling too little of the chemicals and carcinogens I inhaled.
The day I was introduced to ecigs
I tried dozens of substitutes including nicotine gum (made me nauseous), nicotrol inhalers (made me dizzy and nauseous) and chewing on a stick or ballpoint pen (caused tooth damage and blue teeth when the pen leaked), but none of them worked. I was facing the sad truth that I would be smoking until I died… a truth I was resistant to accept. That changed when I went to HeroesCon in North Carolina that year. The first night there, I was smoking outside when my friend Steve Niles joined me. We started catching up, and I noticed he was smoking a curious-looking black stick with a brilliant blue glowing LED. I stopped him mid-sentence and asked the question that would change my life: “Dude, what the @#%! is that?!” Steve pulled out his carrying case, and explained to me the world of eCigs, what they did, how they worked, the pricing and so on. He gave me a card for the company – Vapor4Life, and said “I’ve tried a bunch of them, these guys are the best.”
A few weeks later I ordered a starter kit, which came with two auto batteries, five cartomizers, and a charger. Steve had clued me in on the benefits of refilling carts with juice, so I also bought a bottle of Clove-flavored e-Juice. Once I got the package, I knew that I had found my solution. They felt like cigs in my hand. The clove flavor and “throat hit” (the “burn” when you inhale) felt almost the same as smoking. The vapor they produced gave the same visual and psychological effect of smoke, and the nicotine in the vapor produced the same “calm” that I needed when I was feeling stressed or needed to focus. ECigs provided me with an alternative that gave me the psychological device without the ash, smoke, burns and scars.
The benefits extended beyond that in unexpected ways. The dash of my car was now clean, and stayed clean. I could vape in my work or home office, so my productivity increased and I was able to be more “present” with my family (being able to just tuck the eCig in my pocket when needed). I bought more batteries and tried different juice flavors like the Rum and Cola that became my daily “go-to” flavor (which is very funny considering I don’t drink).
Six months after I began using eCigs, in a particularly stressful moment, I broke down and had a “real” clove. I didn’t make it past three drags. It tasted horrible, like I had decided to purposely inhale the burning rubber sole of a shoe. The rest of the pack went in the trash, and I knew that my “adventures in smoking” had finally, thankfully… Unbelievably, come to an end. I was no longer a smoker, I was a vaper. My adventures with vaping had just begun.
Rantz writes, does art, and a variety of other things in any medium he can get his hands on, most frequently digital narratives and comics. If you’re brave (and willing to put up with his profane ramblings) you can follow him on Twitter @RantzHoseley.