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  1. My Journey with Nicotine

    I started smoking when I was seventeen. Back in the 90s, cigarettes were still relatively affordable where I was living. I was a heavy smoker for years. As prices rose, I eventually switched to hand-rolled cigarettes, which were much cheaper. Throughout the 2000s, I suffered in shame because of my habit. Not only was it becoming more and more expensive, but it was also becoming less and less socially acceptable. In fact, when I moved in with a family friend, it became even more difficult. No longer could I enjoy my vice in the comfort of my bedroom. I had to take it outside. I did so, unbegrudgingly. I tried to quit a few times, but I couldn't do it. In 2011, I met Deedra. After moving in with her parents, I had an even stronger encouragement to quit, and I finally did it. I stayed nicotine-free for about nine months, but I hated it.

    I picked up the habit, but this time, it was surrounded with even more shame and stigma. Now, I was forced to enjoy it fertively, whenever I had the economic resources to afford it. I would buy a pack, and then I'd meter out my supply. Perhaps I'd smoke three cigarettes a day. This state lasted until we moved out of Deedra's parents' house. After that, I had a lot more flexibility about smoking. I could smoke more if I needed it, but it was still surrounded with shame and stigma. I couldn't just light up whenever I needed it, like I used to do in my early twenties. I tried and failed to quit several more times.

    Toward the end of February 2016, I finally gained an appreciation for e-cigarettes. I had always thought these were kind of silly. For me, smoking involved holding a burning thing between my fingers and puffing on it. That was part of the pleasure. The idea of getting my nicotine from a mechanical device was just laughable and ludicrous to me. In fact, I tried using one several times in 2015, but I was unimpressed. Rather than feeling smoothe like tobacco, this felt harsh. I dug in my heels and stuck with my burning things.

    Then I learned that the harshness of an electronic cigarette depends on the formulation of the liquid that you are vaporizing in it. Colloquially that liquid is known as e-juice. The harshness also depends on your style of puffing from the device. Even when you use a good formulation, you can hit it so hard that you still get some serious throat irritation. It takes a little practice to figure out what will work for you. This isn't exactly like smoking a cigarette. So if you're an experienced smoker, drop your preconceived notions and experiment a bit. After I finally got comfortable with it, I made the switch, and I'm never looking back.

    The nice thing about the e-cigarette is that it isn't surrounded with quite the level of shame and stigma that surrounds burning tobacco. I'm sure the puritans in this country would love to change that, since they've been fighting a war on pleasure since the Mayflower, but at least for now, I have a mostly stigma-free way of obtaining my nicotine. It doesn't stink up my house. It doesn't cling to my clothes, carpet, and walls. I never feel bad about using it in my home. I wouldn't really use it in-doors in public. Oh, and did I mention that it was affordable? I'm getting a regular nicotine supply again, and do you know what? I feel fabulous. Over the last week or so, I've literally felt my psychological well-being improving. For instance, when I wake up in the morning, I have some puffs with my morning tea, and I no longer start the day in a cranky, groggy mood.

    One thing I've come to realize is that I use nicotine to self-medicate for mental illness. I suspect that if you asked any medical professional about the health benefits of nicotine today, you would not get the complete answer. There does seem to be a link between nicotine and mental health, though it isn't politically correct to speak of it today. Coincidentally, a family member of mine started smoking when she was well into her thirties on the advice of her psychiatrist. This was back in the 1970s. Anyway, back to my own experiences. My own mental illnesses really started getting worse after my relationship with tobacco became more and more strained. I was pretty happy-go-lucky back when I could chain-smoke in peace. On the other hand, when I quit, I turned into a complete basketcase. For me, nicotine drives away some of the monsters, at least for a little while. I think I've finally come to terms with it.

  2. Introductory Article

    Welcome to my blog. I've been talking about keeping one for years. I need a place to share my technical discoveries, insights, and of course, rants. This is it. Hopefully it serves some purpose other than narcissism.

    Unlike many blogs, this one does not allow comments. At some point, I'll discuss my reasons for that. I'm also thinking about whipping up a comment system that makes me happy. For now, if you have feedback, please send it via email to chris@the-brannons.com.

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