Ten years ago I quit smoking. Sure, I still allow myself the occasional cigarette. Sometimes more than that when the stress level is high. OK, there was a two month (four months OK!?) period back in New York when I fell off the tobacco wagon. I blame that bitch of a former boss and the fact that I was leaving New York for Tokyo and was both excited and sad. Now my bad habit is back.

I smoke outside on the balcony and only in the late evening right before I go to bed. I allow myself one, two or three cigarettes depending on my mood. And I always flush the butts down the toilet, wash my hands, clean the ashtray, and gargle with Listerine before I join my partner in the bedroom. He no longer says that he can smell it on me. I don’t know if he’s just being nice or quietly wishing my habit away.

A decade ago I was up to nearly four packs a week. I still ran and lifted weights but it was clear then that my bad habit was interfering with my health. Smoking is so fucking stupid because it’s so obviously fucking stupid. I guess that makes me stupid. Fucking stupid.

The trick for me now is to stop once things settle, once we know where we are moving next–it’s the not knowing that drives me to facial ticks and irrational behavior. The trick is to not let the lax smoking restrictions in Tokyo entice me to smoke more. The trick is to not let Tokyo get to me. I hate that it still can. This city can really hand you your ass when you least expect it. It’s the opposite of the The Mary Tyler Moore Show song. “IT can take a SOMETHING day and suddenly make IT all seem like crap…You’re gonna eat shit after all!”

And there is me, walking down the narrow streets of Ebisu, throwing my grocery bag in the air, screaming wildly and pouncing on the first obachan I see. “I said sumimasen bitch! SUMIMASEN!!!”

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