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April 23, 2014
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Cigarettes: two years later


March 15, 2012

The stack of old hard drives at Henry’s apartment took me back immediately, my own hand-scribbled “ABBY DOC” written sloppily on each of them. In their cases, the hard drives look like old VHS tapes. There was a stack of seven of them, a massive amount of information, though I remember that I only needed to have four of them plugged in at a time. The film was eventually to known as “Catfish.” But for two years, it was “The Abby Doc” around the office.

This was before any of us ever thought parts were being faked. Before we ourselves even knew what it was or what it would be. Back when we were trying crazy things like voiceovers and sit-down interviews to help tell the story. Before we figured out how to shoot the e-mails and profile photos off the computer screen, unlocking the many characters who existed only in the virtual world.

I remember many times struggling with the edit, pacing in front of the building at 373 Broadway, cigarette in hand, often even talking to myself. Those cigarette breaks were usually fairly productive. Strangely, with editing, many ideas come when you are not sitting in front of the footage. In those days, I could never have imagined not being a smoker.

That was before the bet. Faithful readers will remember (http://www.riverreporter.com/issues/10-03-18/columns-reel.html) my two-year bet with Henry that got me to quit smoking. Well, it’s been a bit of a struggle but last week I made it. It’s been two years since my last cigarette. Actually it’s been a little longer.

To say that it’s been difficult would be an understatement. It’s been life changing. It’s presented itself in so many different and surprising ways: personally, socially and even physically. But do you want to know the craziest thing of all? I still crave cigarettes.

I’ve been a little hesitant to celebrate my two-year achievement, or even tell anyone. The bet was a huge comfort in the fight against smoking. There was a little voice in my head that said, “You can’t have one because you will lose the bet.” And now it’s time to face the facts. “I won the bet, but I still can’t have one.”

But here’s the thing. I’m right back in that place during the editing process. I’m in the thick of a documentary, struggling to put it together. Making good progress and then feeling like I’m nowhere. The highs and lows are huge right now. I’m right in that place where smoking a cigarette seems like a really good idea.