Closet Fascination

A blog about a journey, smoking, not smoking, vaping and everything in between


March 2015

Musings on Pipe Tobacco Cigarettes

Since the conference, I’ve rolled some more pipe tobacco cigarettes on two different occasions. I’m getting pretty good at it. What made it difficult the first time is the tobacco I had was too moist.  I’ve since discovered that very dry (too dry to smoke in a pipe) tobacco, crumbled up, makes the best cigarettes.  It is almost like I’ve found a use for tobacco that has dried out too much. I’ve got my paper filter folding technique down and can now create a consistent product.  I actually really enjoy rolling them, almost more than I enjoy smoking them. In fact, I have to stop myself from rolling them, because I often don’t even have any desire to smoke one, but I want to roll one, but once I have the cigarette rolled I feel like I can’t let it go to waste, so I end up smoking it. I currently have one rolled, but yet unsmoked cigarette that I rolled but didn’t feel like smoking.

Now, fetish wise, I used to think that aesthetics were pretty important and that RYO wouldn’t cut it. I mean I don’t like watching people smoke RYO. When I say RYO, I’m not talking RYO made with manufactured tubes and an injector. I’m talking a finished product that looks more like a nicely rolled joint, than a cigarette. However, I was wrong to count it out based on looks.

Firstly, I found rolling them to be a slightly erotic experience, almost as much as or more so than actually smoking them.  I actually really enjoy the process. I enjoy that a certain amount of undivided attention must be paid or the result will be shitty. I also enjoy that it takes a bit of skill to make a nice looking and smoking cigarette. My current ones look more like cigarettes than joints, so I feel better about smoking them in public.

How do they smoke? Pretty decent, now that I have my rolling technique down. They stay lit, are pretty easy to draw on and have a really, really nice flavour. The flavour is my favorite part. Not the same harshness or thickness of cigar smoke, but more flavour than a commercial cigarette. They are slightly stronger, have similar smoke volume and slightly denser smoke when compared to a full-flavoured cigarette but without a gross cigarette breath aftertaste.  What do I mean  by gross cigarette breath aftertaste? Sometimes when I would smoke a cigarette, I would taste it for hours afterward despite having chewed gum or brushed my teeth. The after taste and sometimes the taste of commercial cigarettes were sometimes unpleasant. I’m not sure how I would describe the flavour though. It tasted different from the same tobacco smoked in a pipe. Way different. The paper imparts a flavour unique to cigarettes that changes the taste of the smoke from what it tastes like in the pipe. If I had to nail it down, it tastes like pipe smoke mixed with paper. The paper adds a harshness that I’m not sure I like. I also noticed that when you inhale the smoke, you don’t really taste it as much. I did notice that the smell doesn’t linger on my clothes for long and the smoky smell that it does impart is less harsh than after a cigarette is smoked.

I did notice the effect of not having a filter, despite the fact that filters apparently don’t do much of anything. If you are interested in reading more about that, this article was enlightening. Apparently, the original goal was to create a safer cigarette, but all their ‘successes’ resulted in a less pleasurable cigarette. I guess ventilated filters would work, except that smokers adjust their draw to compensate for the lighter smoke, so they end up getting the same effect as they would out of a full-flavour cigarette. What I noticed is that I was slightly more phelmgy than I usually am after I smoke.

I actually wonder what they smell like to a non-smoker or someone walking by. I almost want to get someone to smoke one around me so I can see. Or burn one without actually smoking so I can smell it. I suspect it smells a bit like someone smoking a pipe crossed with burning paper.

I always thought pipe tobacco would make a delicious cigarette and my suspicions are confirmed.  I’m starting not even want to ever buy commercial cigarettes again, which is good since I made an agreement with my fiancée that I wouldn’t. He is not super pleased with the loopholes I have found in the agreement as he would much rather I only smoke pipes and cigars.

Will this discovery increase my cigarette consumption? Well, I have to say it already has. I rolled and smoked two last weekend and I smoked four this weekend, two Saturday and two Sunday. I’m back to abstaining for the week and probably longer.  Another thing I noticed about these cigarettes is the buzz is different. It feels more similar to how I feel after smoking a pipe, despite the fact that I am smoking it like a cigarette. I also seem to crave them less, despite the fact that I smoked both Saturday and Sunday, I don’t feel like I need to smoke today.  I started writing this post on Monday and on Monday I felt like I craved them less and didn’t feel the need to smoke. By Tuesday evening, I felt a very intense craving to smoke. I started planning to smoke in the morning. After all, I had one already rolled. I didn’t feel like smoking in the morning though, and then forgot my smoking stuff at home and now I feel fine.

What I realized last night is, that in some ways, I’ve been addicted since I took my first real inhale. I spent the early part of my experimentation so worried I would become addicted when ironically I already was addicted. Not physically, but psychologically. Really the physical addiction just heightens the cravings I already experience. I mean I smoke for more than the effect of nicotine, however, a large part of why I smoke is because I like the way that nicotine makes me feel. I like smoking tobacco in all of its forms and each for different reasons. I like the ritual involved with pipe smoking. I like the large clouds of smoke with cigar smoking and the closeness of the tobacco to my mouth. Cigarettes are my first love, and I like the instant effect they have on me. Cigarettes are instant gratification.

It also made me realize how much I like pipe smoking and that by far it is the superior way to consume pipe tobacco. So I’m going to put down the rolling papers for a time and stick to smoking pipes and cigars. I’m not sure how long I will abstain for this time but I feel like I need a bit of space between me and tobacco right now. Until next time…


Women More Successful at Quitting Smoking when Timed with Cycle

Super interesting, I always thought my cravings varied with my cycle. However, their findings do not match up with my anecdotal ones. My craving are strongest during ovulation and just before my period. They are probably strongest during ovulation because smoking and sexual arousal are very linked for me. Just before my period, I crave smoking to deal with PMS symptoms. While I crave smoking more at these times, the majority of the time I don’t act on it.

Interesting information nonetheless.

Comfort Zone: Why Quitting (or starting) Smoking is Hard

This weekend I had some insight as to why it is hard to both quit smoking (or start smoking). Weather is getting warmer here and basically to me and my fiancee that means that it is pipe smoking season. So we had a pipe on Friday evening and it was nice. At some point in the evening, I decided that I wanted to roll some pipe tobacco cigarettes. I’m not sure what came over me, but I decided that I would roll two and smoke them the next day. I had to go into work to do some paperwork, so it would be the perfect time to smoke by myself. Now you are probably thinking, “Before long she’ll be hooked.” Or that I’m going to go back to my closet smoking days. Technically, it was somewhat closeted smoking in that I told nobody and I smoked alone. I didn’t go to super great lengths to hide it like I had in the past. I almost couldn’t wait to smoke the first one and it was everything I expected it to be. I went into work riding a nice buzz that kept me focused for hours. I smoked the next one just after lunch, it was good but less so than the first, probably because I made the filter wrong and it was really hard to draw on.

I didn’t really think about smoking for the rest of the day. I contemplated rolling more cigarettes last night, but opted for just packing the materials so that I could do it the next day if I wanted to. I had to go into work again today and around 9:30 am, I contemplated rolling and smoking another cigarette. It would be so easy, nobody would know. But instead, I just kept working like I normally do. I didn’t really think of smoking at all for the rest of the day.

But it did get me thinking. I work with people teaching them how to make big changes in their lives, like quitting hard drugs or finding better ways to manage their anger. One thing we often talk about is comfort zone. If I had started smoking as a teenager, smoking would be my comfort zone. It would feel weird not doing it. That is why quitting smoking is so hard. Conversely, if you have a well practiced habit of not smoking, it is your comfort zone and despite how addictive smoking might be,  I think it is this very thing that allows me to smoke occasionally. That said, if I were surrounded by smokers in my life, it would be a different story. Smoking would become part of my comfort zone making it much easier to start. I think this is why there are quite a few closeted/occasional smokers. It allows people to step out of their comfort zones for brief moments in the case of the occasional smoker or the hidden smoking becomes their comfort zone in the case of the closet smoker.

Why I’m not a regular smoker

I’ve probably posted on this at some point before, but my job circumstances have changed a bit and now that I teach adults it would be easier to be a regular smoker. It came up in class that I occasionally smoke, and one of my students said why?

Why indeed? Occasional smoking must seem pointless to the initiated everyday smoker. I’m going to outline a few of the reasons I still don’t smoke regularly, despite no longer being totally restricted by my job.

I like that I can take it or leave it. If only I could apply similar self-control to food. But I think that comes from practice, as well as not smoking everyday or sometimes even for months. Self-control lessens the more times/days in a row that I smoke. As with any smoker, the most I smoke, the more I crave it. Most of the time (minus the conference I went to last week) smoking is an isolated event followed by weeks and usually months of abstinence.  I’ve said ‘no’ to smoking numerous times. Cupcakes, on the other hand, I can’t recall the last time I turned one down.

2. I like feeling the desire, and not giving in
I like feeling the tension and anticipation of desire. Perhaps this feeling would be more uncomfortable if I didn’t have so much practice not giving in.

3. When I do give in, I appreciate it that much more.
Cigarette smoking more so mostly because it is harder for me to do so. None of my friends smoke cigarettes. I don’t buy them for a variety of reasons. But I still appreciate smoking more after a long break from it.

4.Cigarette smoking is more taboo in our house and let’s face in with our friends and society. My fiancee doesn’t like it when I do it, but I don’t feel like I have to hide it. In fact, I tell him when I smoke cigarettes, even when he is not around. I don’t want him to feel like I’m hiding something from him. My friends don’t smoke cigarettes, and when they smoke pipes or cigars it is very occasionally. I would be smoking alone the majority of the time and I have come to like the social aspect of smoking, despite my start as a closet smoker.

5. It would kill my fantasy of becoming a regular smoker.
This is a fantasy that I’ve had for a long time. I feel like I’ve imagined, fantasized about all the ways it could play out that reality would be disappointing.

6. My continued need to live up to my parents’ expectations.
I think it would kill my mother. My dad would probably think I am I hypocrite. My step-mom would think that I had lost it.

7. Health reasons.
This is actually my main reason. I prefer how I feel physically when I’m not smoking regularly. I like not being phelmgy as well as being able to smell and taste things.

8. Physical withdrawal.
I don’t like it. But really does anybody?  Wait…this actually would be an argument for smoking regularly. Or for making sure that I don’t smoke regularly enough to go through it.

Mostly I get in my own way. And I’m okay with that. I’m okay with my desire.I am ok with most people in my life knowing that smoking is something I occasionally do. I was going to write something about being okay with the fact that I would say yes to smoking the next time I had the opportunity, but I realized that I am surrounded by opportunity (giant jar of tobacco, pipes, an almost full tin of my favourite cigars) and 95% of the time choose not to smoke. I’m not sure I’m would be able to do that if I hadn’t come to terms with my desire.

I’ve come a long way from 18 year old me who bought a pack, and snuck off to remote location in a park to have a smoke.

I have even come a long way since starting this blog, where I was totally not ok with people knowing. When I did my experimentation, I would drive to different neighborhoods, put on a separate jacket to reduce the chance of being seen or given away by my smell.

I remember when I started this, that part of me wished I had never tried smoking. But at the same time, I’m not sure my decision was completely that of an impulsive teenager trying to fit in. I didn’t have any social pressure to smoke, even the first uninhaled puff at 15 I could have gotten away with not taking as on the whole the group was actually against smoking. Again, at 17 when I first inhaled, there was no social pressure to smoke. I smoked with my only friend who smoked. Most of my other friends would have probably given me a hard time. In fact, I think there was more social pressure not to smoke. I think that if I had had a different group of friends as a teen, I’d be a smoker right now.

For me, it is clear that I’m more comfortable only smoking occasionally and I realize that isn’t something everyone can do, nor would I recommend someone trying. Until next time…

The Hunger

It has been three days since I last smoked. Last night, was the first time I didn’t feel hungry. During that time and also the three consecutive days I smoked prior, I noticed something that I’m sure I previously noticed, but never really clicked until now.  What I noticed was a hunger. This hunger was so similar to physical hunger, but I would eat and still feel hungry.  I first noticed this on the second day.  I periodically would feel nauseous, but it was worse as the day went on. Food seemed to partially satisfy, but never fully. I knew through the portions I was eating that I shouldn’t be hungry.

Dinner came and I was ravenous. I ate a delicious meal, shared a bottle of wine with friends and I felt pretty amazing.  But the hunger returned. It was suggested that we have a smoke after dinner. That sounded like a great idea. I lit up, inhaled. Satisfaction.  By the time I finished the cigarette, I felt full. Physical hunger for nicotine satisfied.  It happened again the next day. By lunch, I felt nauseous again. I ate. Felt mostly satisfied.  My co-worker I was carpooling with suggested we smoke after lunch.  I had a couple of pipe tobacco cigarettes left. We pulled over and indulged ourselves. Nausea gone.  Satisfied again.  To think that something that once caused me to be nauseous, would now relieve nausea.

What was most interesting, is that in the past my cravings have been mostly psychological. This was the first time I felt a physical craving without an associated psychological craving. I find it amazing how quickly my body adapted to having nicotine in it. At some point in my life that would have terrified me. I can only imagine that physical discomfort/ psychological discomfort increases the longer you smoke for.  The experience reminded me that in order to remain an occasional smoker, one must only smoke occasionally. I also got a small sense of what quitting smoking must be like. All that remains is the psychological cravings I always have.  Those do not cause nearly as much discomfort as they did in the past. One thing that I did in the past that increased the discomfort of psychological cravings was obsess over them and judge myself for having these cravings. The obsession just caused the desire to be worse. I started using mindfulness to deal with cravings before actually knowing what mindfulness is. If you are trying to quit smoking I highly recommend this technique. You can read about it here.

As I write this, I feel hungry again. But alas, this time, only for food. Until next time.

Strange and Beautiful- Chapter 15

Just finished this today. I’m half way through Chapter 16 as well so that should be up soon time permitting.

Chapter Fifteen

It all started with a cup of coffee…

A couple of months ago, I decided to forgo my normal tea and have a coffee. You might be saying, what significance does this have? At the point it is about 9:30 in the morning and nobody is awake at my house. I drink the coffee. It tastes delicious. I think, “This coffee drinking thing isn’t that bad.” About 15 minutes later, I feel super anxious. I get flashbacks to my smoking experiments where I felt like I needed a cigarette. I felt like I needed something, anything to calm me down. An alcoholic drink? No, it is too early and no I don’t actually want that. So I take some deep breaths and try to mindfully figure out where this anxiety is coming from. I take some more deep breaths and notice my heart is racing. I have no anxious thoughts. I just feel it in my body. So I just exist with the anxiety for a bit until I realize why. It was the coffee. While I regularly consume tea, tea has less caffeine in it. It has just enough to render me alert, not enough to send me into miniature panic attack. I was essentially high on caffeine and didn’t like it. My roommate says you get past that feeling, but I’m not sure that I am willing to. I realized that I don’t drink coffee because of how it makes me feel, not because I dislike the taste.

I work with people with addictions for a living, so I often think about addiction. Even when this wasn’t my line of work, it was often a topic that would cross my mind. In the past, it was something that both terrified and intrigued me. I bought into the fear side of anti-smoking propaganda quite readily. But the propaganda didn’t work. Mainly because it wasn’t honest. I think if it had been honest and said something to the effect of this: People smoke because it feels good. They keep smoking because eventually their bodies get used to it and they need it to feel good. It can be hard to stop. Once you’ve tried it, your brain will always remember what it felt like and might want you to do it again, even if you didn’t like the way it tastes or smells, your brain remember that it felt good and it wants to feel that way again. Even if you get sick the first time, your brain remembers the high it felt, not the sickness that came later,  That might have been a more effective message.

The problem with anti-smoking propaganda, is that it seems to be written by people who don’t smoke. It tastes gross, you’ll smell gross, it is highly addictive and will kill you. I would always ask, “So if all of that is true, why do people smoke?” That is because they left out the small and important detail that I answered myself after I tried it. I also find it interesting how this Wise Geek article summed it up, “Most people that smoke do so because they can’t stop.” Really? Really? I call bullshit on this. I will not deny that smoking is probably one of the hardest things to quit. I’ve seen my father quit more times than I can count. But to say that the majority of people you see smoking, really just do it because they can’t stop, I call B.S. on.  I happen to believe that if you really want to quit, you can. I’m not saying it will be easy but that I think this is the type of myth that keeps people trapped in their addiction. Some part of the person wants to keep engaging the behaviour, otherwise they wouldn’t do it. Back to the coffee story- when I hear someone say, “I really don’t like coffee that much, but I’m so addicted to caffeine that I can’t stop.” I actually hear, “I actually really like the way I feel after I have had a cup of coffee and hate that I feel terrible when I don’t and I am unwilling to go through physical withdrawal and psychological reprogramming to give it up.”

The truth is that drugs feel good. Otherwise people wouldn’t do them. If you are saying “Duh!”, you might be surprised that there are people out there that have no idea. I recently watched the documentary, “Breaking the Taboo” about the war on drugs. It talked about how prohibition doesn’t work and I totally agree. And yet, we are still doing prohibition on smoking. While I would never encourage someone to try smoking, nor I am upset about the smoking bans in general, I do think trying to ban people from buying cigarettes if they were born after 2000, see here, is ridiculous.

I think we need to be more honest in our education if we want people to choose not to do drugs. I have no desire to try cocaine, heroin, crystal meth, MDMA or any other drug probably because of my experience with tobacco. But my lack of desire isn’t born of fear. It is born of the knowledge that all of these drugs might be fun to do, but is worth it? Right now, with prohibition and lack of regulation, you might not even be getting a pure drug. Do I want the desire of another drug planted in my brain?

I’m not sure how or why I googled, “What does heroin feel like?”. Curious I guess and I figured a Google search was safer than actually trying it. Not that I wanted to try it. Found a Buzzfeed article that was a repost of something on Reddit that answered the question. It helped me understand a few things.

Drug propaganda often says stuff like it only takes one time to be addicted. This terrified me when I was younger and is really not entirely true. It may be true for some, especially those using drugs to fill an emotional void. What is true, is it can only take once to plant a desire that wasn’t previously there. This desire can be powerful and can drive future use. Is it addiction yet? Probably not. Most addictions develop innocuously, slowly over time kind of how it is depicted in the article. That felt nice, I’m going to do this again. Wow, I function better while using this drug and then over time I need this drug to function. Without it I feel terrible. Now I want to quit.

Secondly, it made me realize that I have never gotten to that point with any drug (nicotine, alcohol and caffeine) that I have used really, where the negative effects of using the drug now outweigh the positive. Where my use is severely impacting my life and my health. But then again, perhaps that is my hyper vigilance coming into play. I consume caffeine daily, much like the majority of adults- anywhere between 1-2 cups of tea a day. I drink alcohol semi-regularly- a glass of wine often with or after dinner, with the occasional binge (more than three drinks in one night) on weekends (about once every 4 months). And I log pretty much every time I smoke here on this blog, so it isn’t something I do more than occasionally. Alcohol would be the only one I would see any addiction potential at this point and I feel like I am pretty careful about.

That brings me to today. I just got back from a conference for work where, for the past three days, I’ve smoked about more regularly (or frequently?) than I ever have in the past. It was a very conscious decision, however, it lacked my previous fear of addiction. I brought some of my pipes  and my favorite pipe tobacco as one of my co-workers was interested in trying smoking a pipe. I also brought some cigars, but we didn’t end up smoking them on the trip.

Now all my current co-workers know about my quirky pipe collection as they saw us smoking the pipe in my co-workers car on the way down to the conference. If you’ve read this blog from the beginning you’d realize that at earlier points in my life, this would have mortified me. During the car ride, my co-worker, mentioned that she would love to try rolling the pipe tobacco into cigarettes. It was like she read my mind. So I bought some rolling papers and I proceeded to try my hand at rolling cigarettes. I now know why people use tubes and a machine or even just a machine because hand rolling is hard. My cigarettes (if you could call them that) looked more like joints. They smoked ok once you got past the paper end. A little harsh to inhale because of the lack of proper filter, but overall not terrible. I was a bit worried they’d be too strong, but they really weren’t. They were actually kind of nice.

The first day was my heaviest smoking day. I smoked two bowls, one pipe tobacco cigarette and two regular cigarettes I bummed off my co-worker. The next day, I smoked two cigarettes- one after dinner and one right before bed and yesterday I smoked a pipe tobacco cigarette after lunch and a cigar just before bed. In retrospect, I smoked too much the first day and didn’t feel super awesome. The other two days were better levels, although I probably could have smoked more given the opportunity.

One thing I noticed this time, is that while occasionally the idea that having a cigarette (or just smoking in general) would pop into my brain it was actually pretty easy to ignore. Occasionally, I’d also get a slight physical feeling that my brain figured a cigarette could fix and while the feeling was uncomfortable, I could be with it, without feeling pre-occupied with it. I’m guessing this is what a craving feels like when you are not terrified of addiction. As I write this, I currently have a bit of that feeling.It feels like hunger and sometimes nausea, but I know I’m not hungry because I just ate. It sucks, but is not unbearable. I’ve decided to abstain from smoking for a bit as fun as this stint of semi-regular has been. I guess you could more aptly call it a binge, since it was a much higher level of smoking than my usual.

I guess as an occasional smoker, I’m well practiced in getting over withdrawal, but I think it might be a bit worse after three consecutive days smoking. That said, I have no developed patterns of smoking so I have less that triggers my smoking than a person that smokes more regularly would. I imagine physical withdrawal must be worse for a regular smoker too, but maybe not. I just know that smoking would make me feel better right now and I’m choosing not to smoke. At least I’m not anxious right now. That was the worst withdrawal symptom I’ve experienced. Knowing that in a few days I will feel like my non-smoking self again is comforting. I think I like living in both smoking and non-smoking worlds, even if the transitions between those worlds are difficult.

Now I know some people have asked me why bother? The answer that me and the other occasional smokers I talked to over the past few days came up with is that we all really love smoking. The withdrawal right now is worth being able to smoke occasionally. Actually, these past three days were a good reminders as to why I don’t smoke regularly. I started writing a post on that topic that I will finish and post later this week. For now, I can empathize with anyone quitting smoking. I can tell you that it gets better on the other side. You probably will still want to smoke, but you won’t need to. You might still psychologically crave it. That will be harder than the physical withdrawal. I find rather than flat out saying that I can’t smoke, which increases my desire, telling myself that I can smoke if I want to, but that I am choosing not to for a variety of reasons helps me get past moments of desire. Until next time…

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