After five years, I'm smoking again
OPINION: I am such a statistic. I'm just another number and I don't mean Eleven.
I feel like every time The Press runs a story on the effect of the quake on residents, it's happening to me, too.
We have more mice; I had a mouse. We have more social disease; I had nits. We have more stress; I had a meltdown last week. Either I am a tastemaker, or I'm reading these things and willing them to happen.
The worst one, however, is that there has been a rise in people taking up smoking again. I am one of those people.
To my absolute shame and sadness, I have started smoking again after almost five years clear. It's so true what they say about not even having a puff, because that's exactly how it started.
One minute I'm thinking: "Sure, I can have a puff. Why not?"
Then I started lighting other people's cigarettes. Just lighting them and passing them straight back. Just occasionally. For months it was only if I was drinking. Now, it's all the time.
I went through a lot of personal guilt about it. In the beginning, I wouldn't let anyone see me, so I did most of the smoking in my car and, for a while, I was so concerned about the smell that I didn't visit anyone after I'd been smoking in case they found out.
Eventually, I didn't care about that either and, like all smokers, completely forgot about that terribly pungent stink you carry on your clothes and hair.
I'd set a date to stop, but within a day or so, I'd buy another packet.
The real catalyst for giving up came in the form of accusations from a 5-year-old. Such a small creature, but she threw the biggest guilt ball.
It was April and the lead item on the news each night gave details of the Hayden Miles murder and the unforgivable story about his beating and dismemberment. I was, as usual, at my friend Hayley's house. Brookie, 5, who has a history of asking too many questions, asked what they were talking about on the news.
In an age-appropriate summary, I explained that a teenager had been hanging around with some bad people and something bad had happened to him.
"So, when you're a teenager, Brookie, you won't be able to hang around with any bad people," I said. And, to lighten the mood, I added: "Except me."
"You're not bad, Mrs Lady," she said.
I laughed, because it was quite cute (and, of course, perfectly correct).
Then she said: "Except you smoke."
I was dumbfounded. Absolutely dumbfounded.
I had been keeping my smoking a secret. If I had smoked at their house, it was after the kids had gone to bed and they most definitely hadn't seen me.
Then Brookie's sister, Bella, 8, piped up: "Yeah, and I saw a packet in your bag."
The shame! The awful shame! Sprung by children.
Anyway, the last time I stopped I did it by going to one of those Allan Carr Easyway seminars, so that's the plan again. I have booked a date for July 9.
The next time I was at Hayley's home, I leant over and told Brookie (actually, it felt like more of a confession - Brookie has a strange effect for a 5-year-old) the date for stopping had been set.
Finally, I gathered up the courage to ask how she knew.
"I saw you."
Then she took me to her room and showed me the elaborate climbing route she'd taken from her bunk across to the chest of drawers one night to peep out the window and watch me on the steps outside, chuffing away.
I've had to take her aside and say if she saw me picking my nose, that's just between the two of us.
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