I want to break free

[2021 update: if at first you don’t succeed, try again]

I have smoked exactly two thirds of my life: twenty-eight years. It’s high time I stopped. So I stopped.

It’s been only five days but that’s the longest I’ve achieved ever, so there is cause to celebrate.

The decision had been years in the making. Friends and family have persisted over the years and my son recently joined the lecturing bandwagon. I’m thankful because I was impervious! Much as they annoyed me, they were right and I knew it. Slowly I was getting closer to commitment: Quitting is the right thing to do, therefore submit.

I was brought closer to the decision last month by the prospect of tobacco deprivation at airports, during long flights –and basically of limited freedom to smoke–, as I prepared for a 24-hour or so journey to a two-day meeting, followed by a 24-hour or so journey back home. The actual trigger was the epiphany that struck me as I thought I was at last free to go smoke between two flights: that is not freedom, that is nicotine enslavement.

In “The Easy Way To Stop Smoking”, the book my good friend Amy gave me years ago, Allen Carr writes:

“It is […] slavery. We spend half our lives in situations in which society forbids us to smoke (churches, hospitals, schools, trains, theaters, and the like) or […] feeling deprived. The rest of our smoking lives is spent in situations where we are allowed to smoke, but wish we didn’t have to.”

Nicotine patches, lozenges and vitamin tablets

I smoked my last cigarette Tuesday after dinner and patched up the next morning. I’ve got lozenges for when the craving is too intense but I don’t like them too much so don’t use them a lot.

The worse day was the day before I stopped.

I had made up my mind, purchased the patches and the lozenges at the pharmacy after picking up my son after school. I was still smoking as my pouch of tobacco was not yet empty –it took me another day to finish it as I let it drag on as much as possible by rolling thinner ones and smoking less.

The second worse day was the third. Possibly because I had not used a patch that morning. Good to know they are not selling squares of adhesive tape!

A couple parting thoughts:

  • Not lighting up is hard, but not as hard now that I have decided to stop.
  • Time goes quite slowly in the process.

Broken sleep cycle

Brown tabby cat asleep on a striped cushion
My sleep cycle broke as stress took over a bit this week with work that is almost if not already late, and other worries in my life. I’m an occasional insomniac but nothing like that. Screens (TV, computer, hand-held sidekick) usually have no impact and most are now set up to display warmer colours after dark. This week, however, there was very little TV, a lot of computer (as often, so no drastic change), and a lot of tossing and turning!

Wednesday night I didn’t even sleep. I went to bed, tried to sleep, it didn’t work. I didn’t work either 🙂 I got up at 2:30 am when I was hungry to have breakfast, went back to bed but soon after gave up and switched back the light to read a book. Then I got bored and chatted an hour or so with a friend from afar and read all that the Twitter mobile app displayed by scrolling down until there was nothing else to load. By then it was 5:30 am on Thursday so I hopped in the shower to get ready and was at work before 6.

I worked 14 hours on International Women’s Day. I noted with mild bitterness that by midday I had already worked 40 hours. The rest of the week was going to be pro bono. For the curious it amounts to 2 days of unpaid overtime.

I may seem to be complaining but I’m not really. First, what I work on is wicked interesting and I enjoy it, and the best people work with me. Second, I’m a workaholic. Not that I pride myself on it, it’s just a fact. Third, I’ve had more or less stress at work in this position for the 3 years since I accepted it. At this point, only a miracle can change this and I’m not expecting one.

I suppose the thoughts and bitterness were compounded by the discourse on International Women’s Day: pressing for progress, equal pay, equality in the workplace.

Mobilisation des troupes

love written in white on a red wallPapa a dit à demi triomphalement et à demi incrédule « Maman se soucie de moi, finalement ! » et ça m’a affectée. Et rassurée.

J’habite avec Papa. Ou plutôt, Papa habite avec moi. Quand mon fils est chez moi une semaine sur deux, c’est trois joyeuses générations qui cohabitent, avec le chat. Maman, elle, habite ailleurs. C’est compliqué. Compliqué, mais bien.

Alors quand Papa a manqué à l’appel (celui de Maman) un soir il y a quelques jours, c’était branle-bas de combat. Moi j’étais ailleurs. En fait, tout le monde était ailleurs !

Quand Maman n’arrive pas à joindre Papa, elle appelle mon frère. Lui m’écrit des SMSs. Moi j’en écris à Papa et à mon frère. J’étais prête à rameuter la voisine, mais mon frère s’apprêtait déjà à venir sur place.

Pas de panique, tout est rentré dans l’ordre dans la demi-heure : Papa a rappelé Maman une fois qu’il eu fini de causer dehors avec un voisin qui promenait Mirza.

Interesting findings regarding dyslexia

Selfie as I wore my dyslexia t-shirt which reads (in French):sodilarity with the dyslexic

Today, the part of the Internet which I pay attention to was abuzz about the recent findings about “Left–right asymmetry of the Maxwell spot centroids in adults without and with dyslexia” published today in The Royal Society, and the work on a lamp that probably cancels or enhances the blue in question, to help override the anomaly (good luck with shining that light in digital media!) See the appendix for the article’s abstract.

I’ve had dyslexia all my life (duh, it’s not like it’s a virus), well before I knew what it was. And today I learned a new characterisation: “visual and phonological deficits“.


So I looked out a window at something in particular in the general brightness of the outside, for at least 10 seconds so that the image of that thing printed itself at the back of my retina. Then I looked away, closed my eyes and put my hands on them. While keeping my eyes closed, I removed a hand and covered my eye again then removed the other hand and covered my eye back. I did that for a bit, assessing which eye had the clearer retinal persistence. This is a technique to determine which is your dominant eye. Retinal persistence in my case was as clear in one eye as in the other. No surprise.

A decisive joke!

A pal I hang out with on IRC suddenly made a candid but decisive joke, “so you need to close one eye!” And I thought, why not? and I did.

I read the same bit of text I had been reading before and found the process of reading much much smoother. It was so incredible that I suspiciously chose text I wasn’t familiar with at all and again, found the process of reading with just one eye much faster and fluid.

Sensory handicap paradox

It is counter-intuitive, in case of a sensory handicap to narrow-down the sensory input, but in this case I was happily surprised. Similarly to when I discovered many years ago that in order to best depict in 2D on paper something I was looking at in 3D, all I needed to do was close an eye and draw.

I’m glad I work from home. Nobody will see me when I read while wearing the eye-patch a friend of mine gave me for Halloween years ago.


Here is a quote of the abstract of the article Albert Le Floch and Guy Ropars from the University of Rennes published:

In human vision, the brain has to select one view of the world from our two eyes. However, the existence of a clear anatomical asymmetry providing an initial imbalance for normal neural development is still not understood. Using a so-called foveascope, we found that for a cohort of 30 normal adults, the two blue cone-free areas at the centre of the foveas are asymmetrical. The noise-stimulated afterimage dominant eye introduced here corresponds to the circular blue cone-free area, while the non-dominant eye corresponds to the diffuse and irregular elliptical outline. By contrast, we found that this asymmetry is absent or frustrated in a similar cohort of 30 adults with normal ocular status, but with dyslexia, i.e., with visual and phonological deficits. In this case, our results show that the two Maxwell centroid outlines are both circular but lead to an undetermined afterimage dominance with a coexistence of primary and mirror images. The interplay between the lack of asymmetry and the development in the neural maturation of the brain pathways suggests new implications in both fundamental and biomedical sciences.