Having A Cigarette: A Writer Wednesday Post

October 17th, 2012 | Posted by Irene in Essays | News | Publication News

Lake of Sky, photo & all text
© Irene O’Garden 2012

But first, exciting news! Some of you may know that last June, I had a writer’s dream experience.

My agent invited me to the Book Expo in New York to see what publishers are up to these days.  As we made our way through the bulging booths, she told me that the day before, she’d chanced to meet an ebook publisher. At the end of their conversation, he’d said, “Oh, we’re also looking for essays. “

That morning, she’d remembered my Pushcart Prize-winning essay, Glad To Be Human. She hadn’t arranged to meet up with the publisher but we headed for the table in International Rights where she’d seen him the day before. There he was.

She introduced us, handed him Glad To Be Human. He read about three paragraphs and said, “This is gorgeous! I want it.” He bought it on the spot. It is to be released in the next month. Watch this space for a special offer for you, my loyal readers!

To listen to this post, please click hereHaving a Cigarette


Emerging from a stressful time a few summers ago, while on retreat, I decided to take a walk to the lake. It was a lovely evening. I had anticipated seeing the lake, but not planned beyond that. Along the soft strip of beach, a lounge chair lay open in white receptivity.

But I am an accomplisher. I don’t just sit and look at a lake. Too reed-choked to walk the circumference. What was I to do, walk back?  Bathed in late sunlight, the lapping lake coaxed me to stay.

I was cast back to childhood. At a moment like this, my mother would sit and have a cigarette. So that’s what I decided to do, lean back in the long white chaise and have a cigarette. Without the cigarette. As I sat inhaling the evening, I thought of breaks–coffee breaks, smoking breaks. It’s not so much the coffee or the cigarette, but the break itself. The break for pleasure.

Addiction is convenient, since you don’t have to decide your pleasure—you don’t actually have to pay any attention to yourself at all. But convenience is expensive—it can cost your life. Or at least many dollars.

Substance or not, becoming aware of the pleasure in the present, the ongoing fulfilled promise of existence, is ever an option. Even an accomplishment.


What’s a pleasure break of yours?



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  • VAY


  • Lying in bed waking up from dream time and watching the brilliant autumn morning sun stream into my bedroom window creating so many different forms of light play – a performance all for my own personal pleasure and glee!

    Congratulations – so very excited for you!! Here’s to you!!!

    • The play of light is one of my favorite pleasures, too-

  • Cathy

    Closely examining the gifts of the natural world. This morning, after ensuring my daughter was safely on the bus, I took a few moments on my return trip up the driveway to enjoy the myriad designs and brilliant colors of the leaves beginning to blanket the yard. I walked back into the house feeling peaceful and ready to begin a hectic day.

    • IreneOGarden


  • You continue to inspire me, Irene! Congratulations!

    • Thanks, Laura–Hope your projects are bubbling along!

  • Scott

    Oh, the addictive pleasure of coffee and cigarettes. I grew up around it. How happy I am that I only succumbed to one of the addictions. I wonder if there will ever be a day when I sit in that lounge chair and have a virtual cup of coffee rather than the real one. (Probably not any day too soon!) My heart WITHOUT JUDGMENT goes out to all people who are still paying the economic and physical price for addiction.

    • The jury continues to fluctuate about coffee–I read great things about its health-giving properties–antioxidants, etc.

      Once, in my 30’s, I was in the midst of a crippling depression–you know the kind where you can’t see the purpose in getting out of bed? I had given up coffee, but told myself “If you get out of bed, you can have a cup of real coffee.” And it did make me feel better.

      Since then, I’ve figured anything that can do that can’t be all bad. I’ll drink a cup to you!

  • Debra

    It’s funny how breaks are often associated with something to do! We have a snack or grab some coffee. It IS nice to just be where you are. However, I do enjoy a nice crunchy break with some Macadamia Nut Popcorn!

    • Sounds mighty tasty!

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