Posts Tagged 'france'

A Smoker’s History: Volume 1

Smoke enough cigarettes in any day, complement that with at least three cups of coffee (I limit it to three and a half, though I’m positive we have six and seven and eight cuppers out there), and you just won’t be too hungry. There will come a time when you will begin to shake and you realize you need to satisfy that dull grumbling in your stomach, silenced with the seventh cigarette at three in the afternoon; so you’ll grab a croissant or something small that sounds like it’d go well with—wait for it—coffee.  Sweets normally won’t do it, you know you need fats so you smear some mayonnaise and or hot sauce on that croissant (we love hot sauce because it loosens up the face). Smoke a nice spliff with a beer after that commute home from work or after that last three hour Wednesday night class that you’re already sick of after two weeks, and you won’t need to eat again before passing out to sleep. Get up early, run and have a yoga sesh by 9:30 in the morning, make a healthy, hearty breakfast, and start all over. Hello weight loss.

This is coming from a fairly inexperienced cigarette smoker; I’ve been a true smoker for around eight months now. I started smoking near the end of my year in Europe, when I would just WANT to smoke. In a lifestyle with no work and little school, I can honestly admit that I’m surprised it didn’t come sooner with the amount of smoke ever-present around me.

On January 1, 2008 France passed a law prohibiting smoke inside restaurants or bars or tabacs. I saw this as a great thing (what a perfect word- thing) for nonsmokers who went out to clubs, as we could hardly keep our eyes open in the stinging heat of the smoky dance floors. As far as cafes and tabacs went, however, even as a nonsmoker I wasn’t too thrilled about that (side note: in France, a tabac is basically a tobacco store; all with the same red sign hanging outside, they sell all sorts of smokables from cigarettes to rolling papers. Some of them are purely walk in, buy and leave; while others are actually little cafes where you can get a coffee or beer). One thing I remember the most about those first few weeks of culture shock was the smoking inside these social places, where all sorts of people would stop in their local tabac for a quick espresso and a smoke while chatting with the owner and whoever else may have been inside. I remember not having the gall to sit inside after I’d picked up George R.R. Martin’s illustrated novel and wanted to sit somewhere and read it—maybe because I didn’t smoke, maybe because I didn’t speak French; who knows, at this point?

So come April one morning after a night of drinking [quality, healthy beer] I awoke around nine in the morning, comme d’habitude and I just wanted to smoke. I’d already began puffing away here and there while away in other Western European countries (smoked my first Lucky Strike in Spain—almost threw up. Bought Marlboro lights in Stockholm to get me through my ennui, and on top  of all this I had begun rolling spliffs about a month prior with whatever tobacco I could get my hands on from a neighbor, a roommate, or someone on the street), but it was still more of a drunk thing (that’s how we all start in college, isn’t it?). My problem was the minimal Bukowski I’d read at the time, paired with the French lifestyle [of coffee, croissant, and cigarettes until lunch] that I’d witnessed day after day, on top of the fact that I was still very concerned with my physical appearance (that’s a story for another post). So I walked to my local tabac, bought some Camel rolling tobacco and papers and filters, and walked home. I sat at my kitchen table rolling for about twenty minutes before producing a smokable result, and since the roommates weren’t home I sparked it right there.

The thing about smoking rolled cigarettes, even with a filter, is that it’s a stronger tobacco rush. Until you’ve been doing it for a month, at least, when someone teaches you how to wrap your fingers around it well enough to make it a tight smoke that doesn’t destroy you with tobacco rush, and not so tight that you can’t smoke it. The art furthers when you work on rolling marijuana into these rolled cigarettes with papers twice as long: that’s called a spliff. In either case, your goal is to make the paper tight and taught around whatever’s inside, and but not so tight you get a headrush by trying to inhale. Europeans have some natural instinct that makes them master rollers of any sort; it’s almost freaky. One handed, backwards, inverted… I’ll go out on a limb by calling it the most unappreciated yet most celebrated art in Western culture.

So I’m sitting there sucking on my rolled cigarette and drinking dark coffee with a little half and half, feeling like tough shit there in my dumpy little flat in Aix-en-Provence overhanging a street drenched in the smell of scooter exhaust, when the first headrush comes. I sat there still, trying to hold myself from throwing up like after that first spliff I’d ever smoked (note to self: write about this). I had to light it again after I’d waited for it to wear off, and by four puffs into it, needing to relight its poorly rolled infrastructure every minute, I realized I needed a lot of practice: but I WANTED to roll my cigarettes (healthier + cheaper, what better excuse would a wannabe smoker need?), so I would keep it going. This marks the beginning of my smoker-dom.

Stay tuned for part two…

Hungover Sundays: Why?

I went through a phase/am going through a phase/stopped caring about this phase where I can’t bring myself not to drink just for one single night. I can’t explain why. Sometimes I tell myself for the creativity, sometimes I tell myself for the social aspect of it… But then under whichever category the night falls, I don’t see myself working towards the goal.

I think back to when I saw 99 Francs in France, the month I’d arrived there… I’d just taken a random train and ended up in Avignon, and saw this movie. I never thought twice about it, I was just trying to be adventurous. Now, I imagine myself taking a similar trip, and the whole time I just know I’ll be thinking about what could come out of it, why I’m taking it, what I’m hoping will come of it.  And the irony (though unrelated): the thought of buying a beer never even crossed my mind as I sipped Perrier in a dark bar that was ready to get rid of me and dance.

Can people truly be more complex than others, is that possible? We all come from the same genetic genres. Perhaps it’s just what you’re exposed to as you’re melded. Complexity, or do I just simply overanalyze everything? If life is the journey to finally understand one’s self, why do I sense that I’d be able to figure shit out a whole lot better if I were almost anyone else? I just don’t see the rationality in it. I want to write, I want to make music, I want to paint, I want to love. I want it all yet can’t succeed in one true field of expertise. How does this work? I see my figure slowly fading away from optimal bodybuilder/sexy dude to doesn’t-give-a-shit/drink-every-night dude, and I can’t figure out if I care or not. Why does Bukowski click so well with how I see myself? An alcoholic knowing he’s a writer, struggling to get his shit accomplished with who he knows he is–so complex, yet so goddamn simple! To what regard did he see himself? Was he as simple as his words?

I see myself drinking just for the sake of it (as Charlie B says, there’s nothing else to do—though I do it even if I have something else to do, and do it during), and I start to realize that it may be to dumb down my nerves, to shut my brain off a bit so I can just relax and do whatever I’m doing WITHOUT analyzing every little aspect of it.. Is curse too strong a word? I don’t want to get all Dostoevsky up in here.

That being said, I need a cigarette. Probably for the physical addiction I can’t escape, but quite possibly just because I want to get up and talk to the cutie outside the coffeeshop (sorry, to get up and look and think about talking to the cutie outside the coffeeshop). Hot damn.

Oh, yeah. So in my “excited about this new blog/website I’m starting” phase, I’m going to have little themed days of the week going in tune with what I write: Hungover Sundays with mornings of reflections or stories of the night before, Mixtape Mondays with new music I’ve discovered over the week (still working this one out, it may not be so frequent), Stoner Chronicles with my stories of travel & marijuana, maybe a new graphic day, and some other ones whenever I figure it out.

Damn, she left.

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Another twenty some odd young adult who believes he sees things from a unique perspective. Here be my poetry & prose, short stories, favored school papers, rantings, and "blogs." Comment, critique, and profit.