Okay, so it's been five months and one week, but who's counting? Oh yeah, I am! I haven't had a cigarette in FIVE WHOLE MONTHS! I never thought I'd quit. I was just talking to my sister who still smokes, and I asked her if she had ever thought I would quit. She said no, she never thought I would quit, and if I did, she would quit long before me. Well, look who made it through five long months without smoking a cigarette! I'm pretty proud of myself. I was a pretty heavy smoker at a little over a pack a day, and I had trouble doing anything without having a cigarette beforehand. Actually, I had trouble doing anything without knowing I could have a cigarette break or the promise of a cigarette afterward. And coffee. Forget it. I never thought I'd be able to drink a cup of coffee without a cigarette... or seven. But I'm sitting here typing this with a cup of coffee next to my laptop, no cigarette in sight.
When I was with my sister the other day, we had been shopping at WalMart, and afterward she said she needed a cigarette. Who wouldn't? WalMart is a zoo. I smelled the cigarette she lit and I expressed out loud my satisfaction in having quit, and that I couldn't imagine smoking again. I can't. The thought of a cigarette makes my stomach turn. Which is a definite good thing. I don't want to smoke again. Lots of people say that if they were told they only had a month to live, no matter how long they had been quit, they would buy a carton of cigarettes and smoke to their death. I wouldn't. Absolutely not.
Everything smells better, especially my hair and clothes and house. I don't have to open windows in the dead of winter. I don't have to constantly chew gum or brush my teeth. I don't have to take two showers a day. I don't have to take cigarette breaks. I can taste food again, and I've discovered that I don't like certain things like buffalo wings because my taste buds can't handle the spice now that they've been stripped of the tar and nicotine. I can smell everything again, and like taste, I don't like the smell of certain things anymore. Stale smoke smell being the worst of all, but I can smell every person who just had a cigarette no matter what they do to cover the smell. It's gross.
Who would've thought I'd reach this milestone? I sure didn't think I'd make it. But I did, and I'm totally happy. The first few weeks are the hardest, but I still do catch a craving every once in awhile. When I do, I just remember how expensive and smelly it was, and how hard it was to breathe. This is awesome. If you're quitting, stick with it. It's totally worth the hassle, bad moods, and impatience. You can do it. Here's to another five months.
So, CVS has announced it will rid itself of all tobacco products and stop all sales by October 1st.
This is a great idea, and the way I see it, it won't affect them all that much. They are already the most expensive drug store chain in America, charging several more dollars per product than other chains like Rite Aid and even Walgreens.
Let's face it, shopping at the drug store should only be done in convenience emergencies. Like, you have to pick up your script after work and you're too tired/lazy to go to the grocery store to pick up that box of Cheerios.
I worked for one of the above mentioned chains for YEARS, and I know how their supply chain works. Trust me, you only want to buy food at a drug store in an EMERGENCY. Seriously.
So yeah, good for CVS. Cigs have always been cheaper at Wawa anyway.
"CVS Caremark, the giant drugstore chain, deserves a big round of applause for deciding to phase out the sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products at its more than 7,600 stores by Oct. 1. The decision will cost the company a substantial amount of money but will place CVS where it and other pharmacy chains belong — on the side of customer health and against a product that still kills 480,000 Americans a year."
I feel awesome. It feels so good to be unbound and freed of cigarettes. It's like a prison whose bars are made of smoke. I loved smoking, but I hated it all the same. It stinks, it yellows teeth and fingernails, it costs a fortune, it stinks up rooms and cars and hair and clothes, it takes up time and mental energy, it causes depression, it turns you mad when you first try to quit, it takes away the ability to breathe freely, it clogs the lungs with tar, ashes make their way into every crack and crevice of life, and did I mention they cost a fortune?
Cigarettes are terrible cancer-causing little assholes, and today I've been rid of them for 90 days. THREE MONTHS! I am so proud of myself, and so grateful. If I hadn't had such wonderful support, quitting may not have been possible. I am so happy to be a non-smoker.
I'd like to thank you, whoever you are, for being there as a reader. The ability to write to you here has been incredibly cathartic, and has been a great help in quitting.
I'm a non-smoker! (Smober as they say in nicotine recovery.) WOOOHOOOOOOO!
Last night, I was watching documentaries on Netflix with my boyfriend Corey. One of them was called "Park Avenue: Money, Power, and the American Dream," which features clips of Ayn Rand speaking about her vision of Laissez Faire Capitalism. This brought me into research mode, wanting to find out a little more about the Ayn Rand Institute. I have loved Ayn Rand and "Atlas Shrugged" for years, but I never knew that ARI was a political powerhouse. On my quest, I came across an article George Saunders had written for the New Yorker called "I Was Ayn Rand's Lover."
I had known about Ayn Rand's affair with Nathaniel Branden from reading her many biographies, in particular "The Passion of Ayn Rand." It creeped me out quite a bit back then, but now to see that she prowled on more than one innocent young man left me with a sour taste. If you know Ayn Rand and her philosophy of Objectivism, you wouldn't be too surprised that Nathaniel Branden was a target on her radar. To hear Saunders recount his having essentially been "raped" by her was a little off-putting to say the least, but his developing jealousy over Ayn having set her eyes on a young Paul Ryan disturbed me. It wasn't his feelings of jealousy that disturbed me, rather her voracious appetite for bedding young men in late puberty is what was particularly disturbing.
So, we now know of three men in their late teens who were successfully pursued by Ayn Rand. There are probably plenty more, but my interest stops there. Seeing Paul Ryan run wild with Ayn's version of Laissez Faire Capitalism as it pertains to our present day economy was like being punched in the gut by Ayn Rand herself. All of her theories sound good as just that -- a theory, but when put into practice as Paul Ryan has done as a congressman, they are truly frightening. I don't know what plagues me more: the affairs with young boys, or being disillusioned by Paul Ryan's crazy plans for American prosperity.
To understand what I'm talking about, you'll have to do a little research. Most of it can be done by watching the "Park Avenue" documentary, reading "Atlas Shrugged," "The Passion of Ayn Rand" (also a film), and then reading George Saunder's New Yorker piece (which is very well-written, I might add). It amounts to a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach, I'll bet, because that's what I'm feeling right now. It can all be summed up in one word: UGH!
Watch the entire "Park Avenue" documentary:
Barbara Branden (Nathaniel Branden's wife) on The Passion of Ayn Rand:
Angelo Merendino Documents His Wife's Fight with Cancer
My Wife's Fight With Breast Cancer
by Angelo Merendino
The first time I saw Jennifer I knew. I knew she was the one. I knew, just like my dad when he sang to his sisters in the winter of 1951 after meeting my mom for the first time, “I found her.”
A month later Jen got a job in Manhattan and left Cleveland. I would go to the city – to see my brother, but really wanting to see Jen. At every visit my heart would scream at my brain, “tell her!!” but I couldn’t work up the courage to tell Jen that I couldn’t live without her. My heart finally prevailed and, like a schoolboy, I told Jen “I have a crush on you.” To the relief of my pounding heart, Jen’s beautiful eyes lit up and she said “Me too!”
Six months later I packed up my belongings and flew to New York with an engagement ring burning a hole in my pocket. That night, at our favorite Italian restaurant, I got down on my knee and asked Jen to marry me. Less than a year later we were married in Central Park, surrounded by our family and friends. Later that night, we danced our first dance as husband and wife, serenaded by my dad and his accordion – ♫ “I’m in the mood for love…”♫
Five months later Jen was diagnosed with breast cancer. I remember the exact moment…Jen’s voice and the numb feeling that enveloped me. That feeling has never left. I’ll also never forget how we looked into each other’s eyes and held each other’s hands. “We are together, we’ll be ok.”
With each challenge we grew closer. Words became less important. One night Jen had just been admitted to the hospital, her pain was out of control. She grabbed my arm, her eyes watering, “You have to look in my eyes, that’s the only way I can handle this pain.” We loved each other with every bit of our souls.
Jen taught me to love, to listen, to give and to believe in others and myself. I’ve never been as happy as I was during this time.
Throughout our battle we were fortunate to have a strong support group but we still struggled to get people to understand our day-to-day life and the difficulties we faced. Jen was in chronic pain from the side effects of nearly 4 years of treatment and medications. At 39 Jen began to use a walker and was exhausted from being constantly aware of every bump and bruise. Hospital stays of 10-plus days were not uncommon. Frequent doctor visits led to battles with insurance companies. Fear, anxiety and worries were constant.
Sadly, most people do not want to hear these realities and at certain points we felt our support fading away. Other cancer survivors share this loss. People assume that treatment makes you better, that things become OK, that life goes back to “normal.” However, there is no normal in cancer-land. Cancer survivors have to define a new sense of normal, often daily. And how can others understand what we had to live with everyday?
My photographs show this daily life. They humanize the face of cancer, on the face of my wife. They show the challenge, difficulty, fear, sadness and loneliness that we faced, that Jennifer faced, as she battled this disease. Most important of all, they show our Love. These photographs do not define us, but they are us.
Cancer is in the news daily, and maybe, through these photographs, the next time a cancer patient is asked how he or she is doing, along with listening, the answer will be met with more knowledge, empathy, deeper understanding, sincere caring and heartfelt concern.
“Love every morsel of the people in your life.” – Jennifer Merendino
Published on Mar 30, 2013
The thing Jen loved the most about my camera was when I would hold it at arm's length and make a photo of the two of us. This video is a collection of some of these photographs. Since Jen passed passed from breast cancer, in December of 2011, I have looked at these photographs a countless amount of times. I still struggle to believe that Jen is not here with me. A few years ago I was the drummer in a band called Jonka, a group started by husband and wife duo Jon and Annika. Of all the bands I played in this was Jen's favorite, she loved Jon's quirkiness and Annika's beautiful voice. Aside from the catchy 80's pop hooks and dance beats, Jonka's lyrics make me think. The song in this video, Ever After, could easily have been written for Jen and me and it has become my anthem over the last few months.
Listen, I understand the importance of the government shutdown and the roll-out of Obama Care, but that feeling of urgency is secondary to the most important things in my life. I have been blessed with the most amazing friends, family, therapist, and doctors a person could ever have. While I know it is imperative that we settle this impasse in government funding of the Affordable Care Act, I have a treatment team which includes my amazing therapist Nancy, who I can depend on to take good care of me despite the government being shuttered and all the problems surrounding enrollment in the Affordable Care Act.
My therapist would never let me go without care, neither would my doctors, friends, or family. I don't depend on the government to take care of me. I depend on my support system. I just feel so sorry for those Americans who have no one to depend on to take care of them should their health insurance or assistance be interrupted because of the government hullabaloo. I feel even sorrier for those people who have no one to advocate for them, ensuring they receive continued treatment--the best treatment for them--come hell or high water. It is so unfortunate that those people happen to be the most vulnerable: the homeless, the elderly, the mentally ill, the addicts, and the minorities.
Many would argue that they work long and hard to receive the health care that they have, but they are the ones who have it and never use it except for the routine check-up. My best advice for those in need of care, in any capacity, is to seek out community assistance and treatment. Most counties, and definitely those in Pennsylvania, have set aside funds to help members of their community in need of treatment and medical assistance. Community or county assistance is among the best resources in the country because they are invested in making sure that members of their immediate communities are well taken care of. Local constituents may also be of help, because they, just like the county, want to ensure that their communities aren't plagued by vagrants and crime. Safe, clean communities ensure these constituents will be re-elected time and time again.
Please, please e-mail me if you need help. I live in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and would be more than happy to help anyone local to me. Even if you aren't local, I'll help you as much as I can by doing research, making calls, or whatever else you may need. I want to help you just like I was helped when I was in need. I lay awake at night thinking of all the people in the world who die on the streets or alone in their homes because they have no one to care about them. I am here to tell you that I care. If you have a loved one that you'd like to help, but don't know where to begin, let me know. You have my word that I will do anything and everything I can to help. No matter who you are.
This young man was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He was determined to get his thoughts and feelings into songs his family and friends could remember him by. You have to watch this video, it's so inspiring. Just a warning, it gets pretty emotional. So if you're not in a place that's conducive to spontaneous sobs, save this video for later. If you're not comfortable with the subject matter, try to get past that for a positive message.
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My name is Nicholas Emeigh, but everyone calls me Nick, and I prefer it. I'm usually called Nicholas when I'm in trouble. I'm from the Philadelphia area, work in business, and fancy myself as a freelance graphic designer, writer, and artist. I have a passion for art in all its forms including music, but I restrict my singing to the shower and the car for the good of society. If you'd like to know more, just send me an e-mail. I really appreciate you stopping by.